Ordinary classes: What fun! — #AtoZChallenge2023

O is for Ordinary classes: What fun! Fifteenth of 26 posts in the April 2023 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: Endwell: My High School Years — adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

Academic tracking was practiced at my Maine-Endwell high school in the late Sixties. College-bound students were put into a set of competitive classes, while students who planned to work after high school were put into a vocational track.

Unfortunately, this meant traveling through high school with the same set of students in class after class and seldom mixing outside of one’s designated track — a practice that has since been discontinued in favor of heterogeneous classes that more equitably uplift everyone’s academics.

Maintaining one’s average

In my high school experience, though, the only exception to the tracking happened senior year – when college-bound kids would take ordinary classes to keep their averages up and spur (or maintain) college acceptances. And that was the year I had the most fun in class!

Classroom. I had to most fun in class during senior year when I took several regular classes to keep my average up. Photo: Pixabay

I took three regular classes during senior year – and it was a revelation to escape the stress-inducing competitive crowd in the honors classes and mix and mingle with a more laid back (and fun) group of students who were not so academically driven. And I was able to get good grades besides!

In regular history class, for example, I had a seat in the back. So, I could tuck a novel into my history book, read it during class and still do well on my exams – even after the teacher called me out for reading in class!

Plus, the student next to me was popular and well connected — part of what we called the “Jet Set” — and she caught me up on the latest school gossip.

Cutting up in ordinary classes

In honors classes, students wouldn’t dare cut up – but not so in the ordinary classes. Jokes abounded and teachers frequently had to gavel the class to order.

Chalkboard. In honors classes, students wouldn’t dare cut up – but not so in ordinary classes where jokes abounded. Graphic: Pixabay

One incident, which took place during spring semester, captures the general mood in regular classes. I can’t remember if it was a math or social studies class, but the weather outside was gorgeous and none of us wanted to be cooped up in the classroom.

Out the window was a view of the hill beyond the athletic field – and suddenly a young man on a motorcycle appeared and began dirt biking back and forth across the hill.

Fun while learning

Little by little, the students turned to the window and watched the motorcyclist, then began speculating aloud on who it might be – clearly envious of their classmate who had cut school to enjoy himself.

Dirt biking. In one of my regular classes, we ended up at the window enviously watching a school-cutting classmate, who was dirt biking on the hill behind the athletic fields. Photo: Pixabay

Pretty soon, the entire class was standing at the window watching while the exasperated teacher, who gave up and put down his chalk, said he intended to report the student — if only he knew who he was! Which got a general laugh around the classroom.

Well, that would never have happened in a straight-laced honors class, which is why ordinary classes were such fun – and a great way to take the pressure off during senior year before the renewed academic grind of college.

Up next, P is for Peg her 40s: My mom resumes her career. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit this week’s other Happy Tuesday bloggers and join the fun:

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© 2023 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “Ordinary classes: What fun! — #AtoZChallenge2023”

  1. Reading a book under the desk – one of the evil pleasures at school – much better than attending to a boring teacher.

    I may have been guilty.

  2. I remember the academic tracking all through elementary and junior high. I went through those grades with mainly the same people. In high school, I attended a specialized high school where admittance was through competitive exam, so all classes, in their way, were honor classes. I had little interest in getting the best grades and there was a lot of competition to do well. It was not a fun experience but what helped make it bearable was that a couple of my friends had also made it into that school.

    1. I wonder if parents and teachers realize the stress school can place on students — especially in competitive classes. What I liked best about regular classes was the chance to relax and get away from that relentless academic grind.

  3. I was in college prep in my high school. It wasn’t that high powered a school though and if there was a lot of competition going on, I never noticed. I took swimming all four years, except the last. I supposed most of those students weren’t in college prep.
    We had vocational, college prep and general. Not sure what those in general were prepared for. Factory work maybe, as this was Detroit.

    1. As in Detroit, good jobs could be had without going to college. We had GE, IBM and Endicott-Johnson shoe company in our area — and some of my classmates ended up working for one of these local corporations. There were also family small businesses that some classmates went into and still operate.

  4. Ordinary is what we all are but each has their own talents ~ good writing about your experience ~ do wish we would find a better way to select out or in students ~ oh well that is another post ~

    Enjoyed your post ~ wonder what you are doing now???

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

    1. Thanks so much! Now, I am a genealogy researcher and family history blogger and normally write about my ancestors. But for the A to Z challenge, I’m focusing on adding my own story to the mix (the way I wish my ancestors had).

  5. Learning should be fun. I’m 71 and high school and college was a very long time ago.

    Thank you for joining the Happy Tuesday Blog Hop.

    Have a fabulous Happy Tuesday. ♥

    1. That’s a shame. School should be an enjoyable youth experience — as much fun as all the reading you are doing and the books you are recommending!

  6. It was an inspired idea to have ‘ordinary’ classes, but did any ‘ordinary’ students change course and decide to go for college and if they did, was it difficult for them?

    1. That’s an excellent question, Janice. Before the 1970s, when a “detracking” movement arose, we students were stuck in our lanes — which was a disadvantage to those in the vocational track. I believe colleges made up for this by offering freshman courses that supplemented high school learning to give students a leg up in their studies.

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