Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Unexpected Personal Day

 

I had to take a personal day yesterday, but not for any reason I would have chosen.  When I went out to my car at 6:30 am, I found that the windshield had been smashed in on the passenger’s side by a tire that must have come off someone’s trailer.  There was glass everywhere, and the tire was lying about 35 feet away in my neighbor’s yard.  So, without transportation to school, I phoned in that I would have to take a personal day to get my car fixed, which I was able to do.

Returning to school today, I had several students ask me why I had been absent.  So I decided to answer their questions all at once by taking just a couple minutes at the beginning of class.

“You want to know what happened?” I asked.

“Yes,” they answered.  “Were you attacked by pirates?”

“No,” I said, “but it was almost as good.”

Moving to the chalkboard, I continued.  “I live on a state road with a lot of traffic.”  I drew a two-lane divided road.

“My house is just off to the side of the road.”  I drew a castle.

“You live in a castle?” several students asked.

“Yes,” I said, “with a moat, and a dragon.”  Continuing, I drew a small, sad looking house next to my castle.  “My neighbors live in a grass hut.”  Everyone laughed.

“My carriage was parked out front in the courtyard last night when the attacking hoard from the East came down the road.  Evidently, one of their chariots lost a wheel which, with great speed, flew right into the front of my carriage, breaking the glass asunder.”

There were several gasps of surprise.

A student raised his hand and asked, “Did you get it fixed already?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“How?  Were you able to drive it?”

“Yes, but slowly, through the countryside,” I explained.  “I had to keep the speed down to keep the wind from blowing all the glass dust everywhere.  It took a lot longer than normal to make the trip.  On the plus side, I got to do something I never thought I would have the chance to do.”

“What was that?” they asked.

“Well, when the gum I was chewing got stale, I leaned forward as I was driving and spat it out the front window.”

There were a lot of laughs.

“Also, there’s one more thing I’m glad for.”

“What?”

“I’m glad my unicorn was in the garage last night.”

Again, lots of laughs and comments.

“You know I’m kidding, right?” I asked, with a big smile on my face.  “I don’t really have a garage.”

What Goes Around…

bballMy student teacher, Mr. Z, played on the teachers’ team in this year’s Faculty/Student Basketball game during our final pep session of the year.  He is fast, tenacious, and, most importantly, young, which means he can keep up with the 8th graders on the court.

Sad to say, but our teachers lost this year.  We were beaten for the first time ever by an 8th grade team lucky enough to hit two three-pointers.  Even so, with the clock running down, the score was 6-5 and the teachers had the ball with every reason to think we could pull off a come-from-behind victory.  Mr. Z went to the left while Mr. D threw up a long three-point attempt that missed from the right.  The rebound happened to go right into Mr. Z’s hands.  But as soon he made a move toward the bucket for an easy lay-up and a win, Ashley, a member of the 8th grade girl’s team, flagrantly fouled him.  And there was no whistle!  Every student in the crowd knew what had happened, but it was too late.  The clock ran down and the 8th graders flooded the court for a huge celebration.  Our long string of victories was brought down by a blown call.  Oh well… life goes on…

~~~~~~~~

The next day Mr. Z called the 8th grade General Music class to attention.

“I hope you remembered that we have a quiz today,” he said.  There was general acknowledgement, with only a few surprised looks.

“So, please take out a pencil and put away any notes you have out.  And be sure to write your names on the papers I’m handing out.”

With that he began moving around the room distributing tests.

“Mr. Z, you forgot me,” said Ashley.

“What’s that,” Mr. Z asked, turning toward her.

“I didn’t get a quiz,” she said politely.

“Oh,” he replied, with a mock look of surprise.  “I wasn’t sure you should get one.  I mean, how do I know you won’t cheat on it, like you cheated in the game yesterday,” he asked with a hint of a grin.

Ashley looked stunned, and then put her head down and broke into a big smile.

“Here,” he said, handing her a paper.  “But I’m watching you…”

Eggs & Gas

My friend Wayne pointed out that if you rearrange the letters of the word “Listen” you get the word “Silent,” which is what you need to be in order to listen.  Excellent advice.  Here is some of what I have heard at Backpack Middle School lately.

~~~~~~~~

After a BandLand rehearsal a few days ago two girls were having a lively conversation in which they kept finishing each other’s sentences.  Amazed, one of them turned to me and said, “Wow, Mr. Shaver.  It’s like we can read each other’s minds.  We must be psychotic or something!”

~~~~~~~~

During another rehearsal, I was feeling frustrated with my 6th graders because they wouldn’t respond to my conducting.

39e3f_funny-pictures-kitten-hates-your-swearing“You need to watch me more,” I said.  “I’ve been conducting with really big gestures, but I’m hearing only the slightest differences in your playing.  It’s sort of like driving my first car – a VW diesel station wagon.  Even when I pressed the pedal all the way to the floor, the engine only went “putter, putter, putter,” like it didn’t have any fuel in the tank.  So, come on – get some gas in your tanks and be more like sports cars!”

To which Violet smiled and said, “I have lots of gas.”

~~~~~~~~

Two boys in my 7th grade music class kept making wisecracks, trying to get people to laugh.  After they had ignored several of my warnings to settle down and get quiet, I asked them to wait for me in the hallway.  A few minutes later, I joined them for a talk.

“Look, Gentlemen, I know you were just trying to be funny.  And, actually, some of your comments almost made me laugh,” I said, and they both kind of grinned.

“But, every comedian knows that timing is everything, and this just isn’t the right time,” I continued.  Upon hearing the word ‘comedian,’ Robbie brightened right up with a big smile on his face.

“When I grow up I want to be a comedian!” he said, but seeing the look on my face, the smile quickly vanished as he softly added, “…but not today.”

~~~~~~~~

Another of my music students could have been listening more closely when I told the class about Amy Beach, one of the few women composers of the 1800s.  He came up a little short on the next quiz when he wrote “Sandy Beach.”

~~~~~~~~

Jon, an 8th grade trombonist, was invited to last month’s school board meeting to receive a certificate of honor for making this year’s Jr. All-State Band.  This was a big deal for a student from a small country school like ours.

His father, being a county sheriff’s deputy, was on duty that night, but managed to come by the meeting to watch.  While waiting in the audience, his cell phone rang with what sounded very much like the theme song from the old TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” to which someone wryly remarked, “Must be official police business.”

~~~~~~~~

Two boys were doing some friendly trash talking in the hallway when one said to the other, “Don’t mess with me, man.  I know where you live.  And my parents own your house!”

~~~~~~~~

“Where’s the new banner, Mr. Shaver?” asked Caleb.  He had seen me working on a banner the day before that said, “DON’T BE LAZY!”  Now he was looking around the room to see where I had hung it.

“Oh,” I grinned, “I didn’t feel like putting it up…”

“Ah…” he said, raising his eyebrows and smiling. “I get it!”

~~~~~~~~

Finally today comes this story from my student teacher (see “Mr. Z” at http://wp.me/p2fXmE-cm), as he told it to some BandLand students:

250px-White_chicken_egg_square“I wanted to boil an egg for supper last night,” said Mr. Z, “but I don’t have a stove or oven (or TV or computer) in my apartment.”

“Bummer,” said a student.

“Yes,” replied Mr. Z.  “Anyway, I do have a microwave, so I used my phone to Google, “Boiling Eggs in a Microwave,” and followed the directions.  I put an egg in a bowl of water and set the timer for eight minutes.  At about the five minute mark I bent down and looked through the window to check the egg’s progress, but just as I did this, the egg exploded!  And I don’t mean that it just went “poof” inside the microwave.  The force broke the glass tray under the bowl, and actually blew the door open in my face, sending broken glass, boiling water, and bits of boiling egg everywhere around the room!”

Pulling his sleeves up a little, he showed the students a couple burn marks where the egg had stuck to his skin.

“I even have a little burn on my eye lid,” he told them.  “And since I was barefooted, I got a small cut on my foot when I stepped on a piece of broken glass while I was jumping around the room!”

“What did you do?” someone asked.

“I spent the next 30 minutes cleaning up the kitchen.  There was even egg on the wall behind the microwave.  Then I took a shower to clean myself up.”

“Mr. Z?” asked Caleb, “Don’t you know that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet?”

What’s in a Name?

“SO, WHO IS JUDGE #3?” she bellowed.

We all looked toward the door of the judges’ meeting room to see a rather large, black high school student with a big smile on her face scanning the people seated at our table.  We had gathered there for last minute instructions before going off to spend this Saturday evaluating middle and high school students who were hoping to earn medals for their musical performances.  This young lady, who had volunteered to work as a judge’s assistant, had come to show Judge #3 to her performance room.

I don’t think I was the only one startled by her boldness; most young people would have been shy about interrupting a group such as ours.  She was not.  On the contrary, her outsized personality dominated and brightened the room.

“Mrs. Stanley hasn’t arrived, yet,” replied the head judge.  “We think the snowy weather may be slowing her down.”

“No problem.  I’m happy to wait,” the young lady said.

One by one, the other judge’s assistants, high school volunteers all, arrived to show us to our performance areas.  I had been assigned to judge the upper level piano solos in the auditorium.  I would be listening to more than 40 students, most of whom were hoping to qualify for the State Festival to be held a few weeks later.

My assistant’s name was Lizzy, though she would only be with me for the morning; another student would be taking her place.  Lizzy was a senior and a member of the high school choir.  Her plans included attending Purdue University where she would receive a partial tuition waiver because her father worked there.  In addition, she had already been awarded a fairly substantial scholarship because she was a very good student with a 3.8 gpa.

Lizzy’s job this day was to keep the students organized who were waiting in the lobby for their turn to play.  She would also be double checking my math on the score sheets I would be filling out, and running paperwork here and there.

After about two hours of this, I heard that voice again.

“ALRIGHT, LIZZY.  IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GET GOING!”

Looking over my shoulder, I saw the young lady who had greeted all of us early that morning.  She was strolling toward us down the aisle of the auditorium.

“You’re leaving so soon?” I asked Lizzy.

“She needs to go warm up for her performance,” said the Voice.

“Yeah.  I’m singing a solo in a few minutes,” explained Lizzy.

“Very good,” I said.  “I hope it goes well.  Best of luck to you.”

Turning to the Voice, Lizzy asked, “Are you here to replace me?”

“Oh yeah!” she said.  “I’ll fill in for a few minutes until Alex comes.  He’ll be taking over for the rest of the day.”

“Thanks, a bunch,” said Lizzy.  “By the way, you’re also performing today, aren’t you.  What are you singing?”

“A negro spiritual,” she answered.

“What?  You aren’t supposed to call it that,” Lizzy said with a laugh.

“Why not?” she said, with an even bigger laugh.  “I’m allowed, and that’s what it is!”

“What is your name?” I asked.

“Chaquita,” she answered, but I hadn’t quite been able to hear her.

“Did you say ‘Chaquita?’” I asked.

“Just call me Kylee.  Everyone else does,” she said.

“Why is that?”

“’Cause ‘Chaquita’ is hard to pronounce, and it’s SO black,” she answered, smiling.

“I think it’s pretty.  Do you spell it with ‘Ch’ or ‘Sh?’”

“Good heavens,” she laughed again.  “It’s spelled with a ‘Ch.’  ‘Sh’ is so ghetto!”

“Well, Chaquita, what year are you in school?” I asked.

“I’m a junior.”

“Do you have any plans yet for when you graduate?”

“I’m thinking of studying law in New Mexico.  They’ve already offered me a scholarship to sing in their choir,” she told me.

“Wow.  You must be pretty good.”

“I’ve made it to the fourth round of auditions for “The Voice,” she said.  “You know, the reality singing competition on TV?”

“I’ve heard of it.  Congratulations!  When is the next round?”

“I’m supposed to submit a video recording by tonight, but I’m not sure if I’m going to make the deadline.”

“Well, I hope you do.  You sure have a dynamic personality, and you seem very comfortable with people,” I said.  “Maybe I’ll get to see you on TV someday.”

“Just watch for Kylee Armani.  That’s going to be my stage name.”

At this point we were interrupted by a student waiting to perform his piano solo, and with the busy schedule we had to keep, I didn’t get to ask her any more questions.  Though our conversation had been brief, she had made a lasting impression.  I heard some excellent performances that day, but Chaquita’s was the most memorable, and she hadn’t even sung a note.

What Is It With Lockers?

Not long ago I told you about Ethan’s magic locker (see it here – http://wp.me/p2fXmE-a7).  Now comes this story.

The other day an 8th grader named Peter stopped me in the hallway at Backpack Middle School and said he couldn’t get his locker open.

“No problem,” I told him.locker  “What’s the combination?”

“22-28-38,” he said.

So I tried it for him and, sure enough, it wouldn’t open.  I tried it a second time, but no luck.

“I’m stuck.  I don’t know what’s wrong,” I said.

“Here, Mr. Shaver,” said Mrs. Crowder, who had seen what we were trying to do.  “I have a key.”

“Oh, good.  Thank you.”  I said, opening the locker.

Seeing the inside of it, Peter started laughing.  “My bad,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“That’s not my locker,” he answered, with an embarrassed smile.

Guns in Schools

lego-laser-tank1

(picture credit: finnslego.wordpress.com)

According to the CBS Boston local news website, a five year old school boy recently made a toy gun out of Legos, then ran around his classroom pointing it at other students while making shooting noises.  So the school made the boy’s mother sign a paper saying that if the child did this again he would be suspended.  According to the superintendent, the school has a responsibility to create an atmosphere of respect in which students “feel comfortable and not intimidated in school.”

You can read about it here:  http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/01/29/hyannis-5-year-old-threatened-with-suspension-for-making-gun-out-of-legos/

A few questions come to mind:

  1. Why was the student allowed to run around the room?  Would it have been o.k if he had been walking?
  2. Why not just take away the Legos? Or require that students have a license to play with them?
  3. Could this have been the offending student’s (misguided) way of making the other students respect him?
  4. What should be done if the student trades in his Legos for a “hand gun?”  You know, what if he points his finger and raises his thumb to make a gun?

~~~~~~~~~~

This morning as I was greeting students in the hallway at Backpack Middle School on their way to first period, one of my 8th graders came along with his hand in the shape of a gun.  Personally, I think he was simply pointing at something down the hallway, but these days we can’t be too cautious.

“Stephen (not his real name),” I called, waving for him to stop and come see me.  “What are you doing with that gun?  You know that is supposed to be left in your locker during school hours.”

He looked down at his hand, then back up at me.

“Next time, I’ll have to confiscate it and turn it in to the office, and your parents will have to come into the school to get it back for you.” I told him.  “Now, holster that thing before someone gets hurt.”

So with a grin, he stuck his hand in his pocket and went on to class.

An Eventful Week

Music WreathTuesday this week my Concert Band students had an after-school rehearsal to prepare for Wednesday’s Christmas Concert.  Then, since I had to stay in town to help with the high school band during a basketball game, I went over to Jim Dandy’s restaurant for a bite to eat.  The dining room was packed with older people, though I didn’t know why.  Thankfully, a booth was open, so I had a seat, ordered my food, and read my book.  When I went to check out, my $7.89 meal rang up as only $5.13.

“There must be some mistake,” I told the cashier, “I’m sure my meal was more than that.”

“Nope,” she said, showing me the ticket.  And there, much to my shock, I read, “Senior Citizen Discount… -$2.76.”

“What!?!  That’s not right… in so many ways.  I still have ten years to go for that.  Please feel free to charge me the regular amount,” I begged.  “It’s not like I’m on a fixed income, yet.”

She just laughed and said that would be the price.  So I paid the $5.13, and added a 40% tip just to show I could afford it.  Besides, I didn’t want the waitress to be penalized simply for feeling sorry for me.

~~~~~

“So what did you think of your performance?” I asked my 6th graders during first period this morning.  The Backpack Schools presented their Christmas Band Concert last night, and everything seemed to go well.  With few exceptions the students played and behaved as I had hoped they would.  Of course, there were the usual hiccups, like when three different drummers couldn’t remember where they had set their music.  But they found it, and the show went on.

“I was nervous because my mom sat right there in the front row,” said one student.

Another student said, “I got really hungry in the middle of the concert.”

“Didn’t you eat beforehand?” I asked.

“No, but my mom had gotten me a Big Mac to eat in the car after the concert.”

“What do you mean?  The Big Mac sat in the car for 90 minutes before you ate it?”

“Yes, but it was delicious!” she said.

“Anyone else?” I asked.

“It was the most memorable thing I have ever done,” said a 6th grader named Alex.  I studied his face to see if he was being funny, but he was absolutely serious.

“I’m glad,” I said.

~~~~~

Today I received notes from several staff members and parents asking me to tell the students how enjoyable the concert had been, which I did.  And, in keeping with our tradition, rather than having a rehearsal, I took time with each class to review and learn from the experience.

When the comments had all been shared, we had some fun playing my own version of 20 questions that pits the boys against the girls.  The kids had a great time, and the game turned into quite a competition.  At one point, a girl gave a wrong answer which cost her team a point.  But her teammates were encouraging to her and didn’t make her feel bad about it.

“After years of playing this game with classes,” I said to the students, “I’ve noticed that when a girl makes a mistake the other girls are sympathetic and understanding.  But when a boy makes a mistake, the other boys do a verbal pile-on, basically saying, ‘KILL HIM!'”

Just as I said these last couple words, the BandLand door opened and our school superintendent entered the room.  I could have died.

“I just wanted to stop by and tell you all how much I enjoyed the concert,” he said with a smile.

“Oh.  Thank you.  And I’ll be sure to pass that along to my other classes today,” I replied.

~~~~~

When class ended I went to my computer and learned that Jon, one of my 8th grade trombone players, had been selected for this year’s Jr. All-State Band.  His audition earned him 3rd chair out of 12 trombone players.  Now this was a big deal, so I sent out an email to the entire school system explaining that Jon is the first student from our school to ever make it into the Jr. All-State Band.  Before long I had received notes from people like the assistant superintendent and a bus driver asking me to pass along their congratulations.  Another note came from the superintendent inviting Jon to attend the next school board meeting so the board members can acknowledge his accomplishment.

When I shared all of this with Jon he just beamed.  “All the hard work is paying off, isn’t it?” I asked him.

“Yes, it is.” he answered.

“Well, keep it up.  You should be proud of yourself.”

One other person who should be proud of herself is my daughter Angela (warning:  fatherly bragging to follow).  We found out this morning that she also made the All-State Band.  In fact, this is the third year in a row for her, and the second year in a row that she will be the first chair oboe player.  Much credit for this accomplishment goes to the two oboe teachers she has had:  her first teacher, Mr. Steve Dingledine of Muncie, IN, and her current teacher, Mrs. Pam French of Carmel, IN.

Angela was so excited that she screamed when I called her on the phone to tell her.  Of course, being a home school student, she won’t get any invitations to appear before the school board, but it is just as big a deal.  Perhaps we will have to take her and the family out for a celebration dinner.

~~~~~

Last spring I posted a blog entitled, “A Band Director’s Prayer for His Students (March 26, 2012).”  Over the last several months it has come to be the most viewed entry on Hall Pass, for which I am gratified.  I had no idea this would happen; I assumed one of the more humorous postings would take that honor.

This week I learned that the student webmaster for the Cathedral High School band program in Indianapolis reposted it on behalf of her band director Kathy McCullough as their Prayer for the Month of December (http://www.gocathedral.com/page.cfm?p=2674).

One of the last lines of the prayer says, “I pray my students will learn they are capable of doing much more than they ever thought possible.”  I think it is possible that God has answered this prayer at least in part this week.