Friday, July 10, 2009

Flashback Friday: I was voted most able to...

In middle school--the one year that I attended public middle school--a fair of sorts was thrown. I don't really remember the reason, just that certain groups of students were required to come up with an activity for the fair. I believe we did this in our "advisory groups."

Advisory group was a mandatory class for everyone in our middle school. It kind of makes me think our whole town was dysfunctional or something because, looking back, the words "group therapy" don't seem too misplaced when seeking words to describe advisory group. A teacher led the group, but it was supposed to be slightly more informal than a classroom, so they weren't referred to as a teacher. Instead they were the mentor or leader or something like that.

Groups weren't divided by age or grade. Instead we were randomly placed with a mentor and met once a week with the other peers in our group. The idea was that the older students would help mentor younger students under the supervision of "The Mentor." Or something like that.

Like I said, it was kind of like group therapy or a life skills class or a buddy system program. It didn't work too well, in my opinion, because, like I said, looking back, the whole town seems a little dysfunctional. Still, we did some service projects (because school in Canada requires mandatory community service hours to graduate...uh-huh and I don't think that's a bad thing, either) and talked about how to put a resume together (in case anyone wanted to get a job or something) and tried to bond.

Bonding with anyone in this town seemed impossible to me. Maybe it was just the insecure stage of life I happened to be in while we lived there that made bonding seem so impossible. Or the rampant use of drugs. I'm not sure which.

Anyway, my advisory group was...called...Mr. Stone's Lightning. Or maybe the Lightening Bolts. Or maybe the Thunder Bolts. I don't remember. All I know is that we had to make a banner to hang in the commons area and a theme song and do a skit in front of the whole school and I had to be the cloud. Talk about an embarrassing part to play. The cloud?

My costume was quilt batting with a hole cut out of the center so it could go over my head. My mom assured me that I looked cute. But cute as a cloud isn't exactly the look I was going for in grade 6 so it was slightly mortifying.

Anyway, the fair, the fair. I don't remember much about it except for two stations.

The station that my advisory group did was face-painting with pencil crayons. It was not a big hit. Which is probably alright because what were we thinking?!

We had to take turns manning the stations and after we had filled our time we were free to enjoy the fair with our real friends instead of the forced-friendships of our advisory groups. Maybe I was the only one in the whole school who didn't enjoy advisory group but I just never seemed to hit if off with anyone in that class; I enjoyed the fair a lot more once I was away from my advisory group and back with my friends.

We went to this one station, the only other station that I remember, where you got into teams and duct-taped one member of your team to the wall. You were limited to a certain length of tape and the goal was to stay stuck to the wall the longest.

I was the one selected to be taped to the wall since I was the one of slightest stature in my group of friends. Oh, if only I had any pictures from that stage of life to show to you (I do, just not here right now). I was so willowy and slender. Not that I'm incredibly bulky now (except for the ball of baby sticking out in front), but back then I was so skeletal, it almost looked unnatural.

I never believed I was so small until I saw a picture of myself with the girls in my ward posing by the diving board of the public swimming suit wearing our bathing suits. I was like a walking toothpick and was about half the size of the girls I thought I was approximately the size of. Suddenly the reason my friend's older brothers insisted on calling me "Skelator" came clear. I was absolutely skeletal.

Anyway, I was selected to be taped to the wall. Of course.

I had to borrow my friend Jessica McKay's sweater--I have no idea what happened to her; I haven't seen her since grade 6--because I was wearing a t-shirt and didn't want to be duct-taped to the wall by my bare skin. My friends got their allotment of duct tape and I prepared myself to be stuck to a wall. We thought of a plan of how best to tape and then I climbed on the stool and my friends proceeded to tape my arms, legs, and torso to the wall. No tape was allowed across the neck, no worries.

When they were finished taping they removed the stool and there I stayed, suspended five inches above the ground...stuck to the gymnasium wall...with duct tape.

I wondered if that might be how a fly caught in a web feels, although I wasn't struggling to escape. Quite the opposite, I was doing my best to stay as still as possible so that I didn't disturb the duct tape's hold on the wall. I outlasted everyone who had been taped to the wall the same time that I had. I outlasted several batches of students that were taped to the wall after me, as well. In fact, I spent most of the fair taped to the wall and I believe my picture even ended up in the yearbook because of it...although I can't verify that from here. They eventually just took me down and declared me the "person most able to be secured on a wall with duck tape" or something like that.

I'm not sure that "person most able to be secured on a wall with duck tape" is a title to bear proudly, but I'm just so darn good at being stuck to walls that I can't help but brag a little. Some leave school "the most likely to succeed" or "the most likely to become President." My title far surpasses those; not just anyone can claim such a noble and cool-sounding title. Please, please don't be jealous.


  1. you can still the old family picture with g & g C. on face book, you look mighty thin there....anyway at least you can say you stuck with something right?....I know not funny.....

  2. I remember that. That was on my birthday. I don't remember the advisory groups though. :P

  3. Oh, they existed, I assure you. Judging from Senator Riley's home page, it looks like the idea has been dropped...apparently I wasn't the only one who thought they were pointless, unacademic, and were too forceful about trying to create friendships.

    I found a ListServ thing discussing those very points. I thought it was hilarious that teachers, parents, and administrators were describing "Advisory" as, "tak[ing] away instructional time, caus[ing] extra work for teachers, and is...contrived in an attempt to "connect" to kids that it is irrelevant."

  4. It makes me feel better to know I wasn't the only one who disliked advisory class. It was a bit of a joke.