The Quiz Will Be Waiting

school

Two less and I was a mess. This time it was Felix. And this time, unlike Ramona, I saw it coming. Felix hadn’t been in class for over a week and Principal Lurlene hinted that he might not come back. I was on the phone with his mother the other day. She said, “He won’t get out of bed. He’s overwhelmed with anxiety. It’s not good, the poor guy.” I let everybody know.

Anyhow, what are you gonna do?

Felix would have been in class, in The Cozy Room of Learning, taking the chapter 8 quiz. He made a 97 on the chapter 7 quiz, the best score of all my students. It was an examination of the life of the colonial people of Georgia. Of sixty-one questions he goofed only two.

I went and told Lurlene his quiz was sitting on my desk in the front of the classroom.

Lurlene said she’d mail it to him if I wanted.

I said, “I’ll hang on to it for when he comes back. Maybe. One day. With Ramona?”

Lurlene gave me a kind look. She understood. She used to be a teacher. She said, “You gotta always remember how special these kids are. Special. Special ed.”

Months later, I still had that graded quiz of Felix’s on my desk up in the front of the classroom, just waiting on him for a reason that just worked like a thunder clap of glory.

I missed him, and every day I sat there and got to see that thing of beauty. An A-plus. A big, wonderful 97 on the chapter 7 quiz, Life of the People in Colonial Georgia. And then he left. He was such a great kid. A great kid in class. Kind. Mannerly. He was so missed.

But then he was seen one day. I was walking across campus and I saw a kid in blue jeans, a t-shirt, a hooded jacket and a baseball cap, playing basketball by himself on one of the goals near our parking lot. When you see some kid way out of uniform on campus it’s usually somebody’s brother, but it was ol’ Felix, timing his visit to see his old pals when they came out of the buildings to go home. He’d be able to see them all and they’d be glad to see him.

He called my name first and I didn’t know who he was. He’d lost weight and had a real pep in his step.

It was Felix, all decked out in what everybody’s wearing these days. You know, skateboard sneakers the size of Buicks. I asked him what he was doing.

“I’m here to see my old friends!” he said.

I asked him how his mother was doing.

“She’s in the car over there!”

I waved. I don’t think she saw me.

I asked him how he was doing.

“Great!”

“What school did you end up in?”

He told me it was the local public middle school.

“And you’re keeping up?” I asked, “Class and academics, okay?”

“They’re great! I’m taking Georgia history,” he said.

“But I’m still your favorite Georgia history teacher, right?”

“Right!”

For some reason he took his cap off and showed me… his shaved head.

“So… Felix,” I said, “you’re bald now!”

“Shaved!”

I told him I still had that chapter seven quiz on my desk of his and that he made a big, bad A-plus on the thing.

“I did?!”

“Sure did.” I shook his hand and told him he looked great, that I was proud of him.

We shook hands and I walked into The Cozy Room of Learning and thought for a second, I don’t need that quiz anymore. Why would I keep it from him any longer. It’s really his and he earned it and this was the moment I guess I was waiting for. I ran back out and interrupted his basketball game again and gave him the quiz. “See here?” I said, “You did great!”

He looked at the quiz as if he really and truly couldn’t believe I had saved the dang thing. For this long.

But I did. And me and Felix and the school nurse who was walking by all had a pretty good chuckle about an old quiz grade… and a kid who still counts.

(photo courtesy of Libux77/Dreamstime.com)

Smiles For All