Monday, January 19, 2015

Sent away -- again (part III) .....

I have few pleasant memories of my time at the school.  As I recall, it started snowing early (October?) and the snow continued into spring (March).  There were numerous black flies which, I was sorry to learn, bite.  HARD.  Since there were so few students, it was difficult to find anyone that I felt an affinity with, and I never did fit in.  Fulfilling a lifetime (or school lifetime, at least) fantasy, I joined the cheerleading squad, which was open to anyone who wanted to participate.  At nearly 200 pounds I was, no doubt, the most improbable cheerleader ever, but I was enthusiastic -- for a while.  The other girls on the squad didn't care for me -- and let me know -- and we were a fairly rag-tag group.  We did have one girl who could do both a cartwheel and a split; the rest of us mostly jumped around waving our arms in semi-unison.  I quit the squad about half-way through the season.

The school had a stable and boarded horses for the local community.  I loved horseback riding when I'd gone to girl scout camp years before, so when the opportunity presented itself to earn riding time, I eagerly signed up.  In order to be able to ride a set amount of time, I had to first work by feeding the horses for a (much longer) set amount of time.  I didn't mind the trek down to the stables until, as I mentioned, it started snowing.  After that, not having proper outdoor attire, it became too much of a chore and I quit that as well.  I don't think I got to ride more than once or twice the entire time.

The one true bright spot was that I was able to participate in the drama program without worrying about my aunt being unwilling to transport me to rehearsals.  Because of the school's small size, anyone who auditioned for a part was pretty much guaranteed to get one.  I landed the lead in the school's fall production, during which the script called for me to smash a plate onstage and fall to my knees, screaming in emotional agony.  It was wonderfully cathartic.

A "suggested donation" of 25 cents gives you a good idea of the quality of the performances.

The only time I received any regular counseling was while I attended this school.  Apparently this was something the school required my parents to pay for in return for not expelling me for my criminal behavior.  Again, although this was something I'd desperately wanted at home, it wasn't anything I wanted to do at school.  I had to ride the activity bus to Waterville one day a week, which piqued the curiosity of the other students.  It was obvious that I wasn't going shopping (the main reason students went to town), and I was frequently questioned about what I was doing.  Not wanting to admit my destination and the reason for going there, I told everyone that I was instead seeing a doctor for ongoing ear problems.  I don't know if anyone believed me, but it's the story I held to for the rest of the year.

The counseling, itself, wasn't at all helpful.  I was in a place I hated, put there by people I hated, and all the counselor had to work with was information given to him BY those people.  I was an unwilling participant and no progress was made.  The only thing the sessions accomplished was to buy my uncle a little more time without me, so it was well worth it to them.  (They paid the school's tuition from the Social Security survivor's benefits I'd been receiving since my grandmother's death, so it's not like it was money out of their pockets anyway.) 

Of course, had they not had to pay for counseling, they might have been willing to pay for the driver's ed program offered by the school.  It was much more expensive than the one offered by the public school at home -- the one I'd had to drop out of because my uncle's wife had grounded me.  I called -- collect -- to ask if I could take the class, and was told "absolutely not."  I pleaded ... I cried ... I was still told no.  I believe I said "I hate you!" just before slamming the phone down on my uncle's wife.

Side note:  at the end of the fat camp session, all the campers had the opportunity to go to town and shop for a new outfit.  It was a chance to celebrate our weight loss and get something new to proudly wear home.  I called -- collect -- to ask for a few dollars and was told "absolutely not."  I'll leave to your imagination how the remainder of the call went.

The school's spring production was "Brigadoon."  I'd been in a musical just once before, at fat camp, but I loved to sing and was looking forward to participating.  Although I'd hoped for a fairly large role, I ended up sharing a role with another student -- the lines given to just one character in the script were split between the two of us.  But I got to be part of the chorus and had a short solo, so I was satisfied.

Since I had sewing experience, I also volunteered to help with costumes.  The play is set in Scotland, so the cast members needed kilts -- lots and lots of kilts.  The drama coach purchased bolts of plaid fabric and set up some sewing machines, and work started on the costumes.

I took one of the sewing machines and some fabric and supplies, and put it all in my room.  My thought was that I could sew at my leisure, and not have to do it where ever the "official sewing room" had been set up.  However, I neglected to ask permission and when someone noticed the machine wasn't in its assigned location, a room search was made and it was, obviously, found in my possession.  

It was mid-May, and I was called into the Dean's office.  He told me that my uncle had already been notified, was on his way (in his airplane!), and that I was being expelled from school that day.  I tried to explain that I hadn't stolen the machine and that I had, in fact, simply borrowed it to help make costumes.  However, given my history of theft, the school was no longer willing to cut me any slack.  

I was stunned, and begged to stay so that I wouldn't have to miss the play and, in a couple weeks, graduation.  However, as back in August, the decision was made and I was told to go pack and be ready to leave within hours.  Since it was so close to the end of the school year, the Dean did agree to let me receive a diploma and have my transcript marked "graduated."  However, the diploma would be mailed to me and I would not be allowed to participate in the actual graduation ceremony.

I returned to my room, in tears, to pack as much as I could and to begin preparing myself to face my uncle.  He would, I knew, be furious and it was a meeting I was not looking forward to.