Arlene and James Tour the Universe

While going through those boxes that I’ve mentioned more than once, I came across some report cards from my school days, including my senior year. It has some surprises.

I knew that I had slacked off towards the end of the year, when the grades no longer mattered for getting into college, but a “D” in the 4th quarter of English? Of course, I was in rehearsal for the play at LCTI, so that might explain that, but English was always a pretty good subject for me. Perhaps I just pissed off Mrs. Papson? I’ve been told she could lower a grade if she got angry at someone, and I was certainly capable of drawing a teacher’s ire on occasion. Then again, perhaps I just didn’t do some required reading and got a poor grade on a test; I was quite capable of that as well.

Mr GraybillThen there’s the somewhat cryptic POD for the first two quarters. I think that was the course taught by Mr. Graybill, and it perhaps stood for Principles of Democracy (the second half of the year we got Economics with Mr. Hess. Hiss! Hiss! (I’m hissing the subject not the teacher)). Or did it stand for Problems of Democracy? Whatever. On the final day of the class, Mr. Graybill had a tradition (which I’m certain would not pass muster under today’s climate, at least I hope not) of predicting when everyone in the class would get married. As I recall his prediction for me was 1978, which was farther out than anyone else’s but still wrong. When he got to Alberta, however, there was a smirk on his face as he slowly said, “Alberta will get married—for the first time—”  At which point the class, me included, broke out in laughter, sad to say. Alberta was embarrassed, hurt, and angry. I wonder how long he continued that tradition?

Spanish, Trigonometry, and Physics don’t surprise me, but what’s that Advanced Math class? I don’t remember taking it, nor do I have any idea what it covered. Calculus perhaps? Except I don’t recall getting more than a brief intro to calculus in high school. Who taught the class? The yearbook says Mr. Stumpf taught Advanced Math as well as Trig, so I guess I had him for two classes. Maybe that’s why I blanked it out.

And then there’s the elective Astronomy course that Arlene Herr and I took. I’m not sure just how it came about, but we both were interested astronomy, so the idea may have come from either one of us. Our Physics teacher, Mr. English, taught us.

And I found it very disappointing.

What I liked about astronomy was its history with folks like Copernicus and Galileo theorizing via fairly primitive instruments what was really going on out there in the starry sky. And I love the awesome beauty of the various planets, stars, and nebulae, and studying the different conditions on the planets like Venus and Mars and Jupiter, and thinking about the vast distances in the galaxy.

But the textbook that Mr. English used only had black and white photos, so forget about the beauty of the universe. (I guess Alice might say that at least our book had black and white pictures while her sister’s book had none.) Still worse, a great deal of the course dealt with math. Now I liked math, but what I liked about math was the logic behind it. This was nitty-gritty math calculations using big numbers. So I found the course very disappointing. I don’t recall how Arlene felt about it.

I’m actually a bit surprised that I got as high as a “B” in it.

Update a few hours later: Just heard from the former Arlene Herr. She recalls the Astronomy course and says she loved it. Glad to hear it.

Senior report card

Leave a Reply