Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Day in Middle School

Yesterday, I spent the entire school day at a nearby Middle School, taking part in a career fair they were having. This involved an endless stream of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders wandering different tables in the gym and stopping at whatever careers interested them. There was actually an interesting mix of people who volunteered their time. There were the obvious, like the police, who hogged a lot of attention with their fancy toys and tazers. A DJ spinning a setlist of out-of-date songs that were played at my Middle School dances. A dental hygienist giving out toothpaste, etc. But there was also a surgeon, an upholster, a paint maker (I didn't know one could do such a thing), and a wig maker, among others.

Going into the day, as the "Author" at the event, I'd expected to attract a handful of painfully obvious future writers--other writers will know exactly what I mean. There are several breeds of us, but they can all be spotted by age 12. And though I certainly did receive a constant flow of those kids, what surprised me was just how many there were. An overwhelming number of the kids told me how they wrote stories and how much they liked to read. As one who typically finds things to make me feel things are going the other way in our culture, it was really encouraging and inspiring to talk to so many enthusiastic kids.

Now I wouldn't be doing justice to my experience without noting other observations. This was the first time I'd set foot inside a Middle School probably since I left mine for the last time in 1990. In those twenty years, I'm sorry to say fashion has come nearly full circle. Though it was "Crazy Sock Day" at the school which livened up the drab plaid and leggings and oversized soccer shorts. It was also impossible not to notice the stark difference between eighth graders and sixth graders. One set looked like teenagers while other looked like children. It's always amazed me how schools are organized in ways the place children of completely different levels of social knowledge together en mass.

The other thing that fascinated me was the flood of memories it brought back. There were so many students that immediately registered a counterpart from my memory. I thought about some people that I hadn't thought about in a long time. All in all, it was a good day to spread good karma. I was also able to outline the next three chapters of my manuscript during lulls.

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