Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article on Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Slide Rulers filed me with the kind of conflicted emotion that only long, compounded German words can accurately describe. The idea of those nerdlingers getting conked on the head with ceiling tiles is a tiny bit appealing to me, but at the same time the decrepit state of our area public(ish) schools is a disgrace.
Although I have never been inside the esteemed institution, I did drive around the outside of it once looking for an unguarded dumpster to toss our old demolished kitchen cabinets. The exterior did not have the sweeping glass and steel architecture I imagined the nations finest public school should have. Or the giant Smelloscope or detached generators to power the rebigulators. According to the article, (you need a password to read it online) they can’t even afford to fix the roof so water doesn’t destroy their super computer. Sounds like I could have dumped my old cabinets in the front lobby and nobody would have notice.
Truth be told, though, I have no ill beef with the current class of over-achievers who apparently “have had mice crawl up” their “leg and arm.” Back when I was a youngster, TJ was that jerk school who always had 1000 kids at the VJAS science expo and smoked us regular kids with our baking soda/vinegar volcanoes. They used words like “catalyst.”
And while their athletics teams didn’t excel as well their Mathletics teams, they did do well in the sports I played. I assume their crew team won because they were able to master the physics involved with rowing and were just more efficient. But the real irritability I have toward that school is based on a football game that was played over ten years ago.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, two white bread schools faced off on a parched field in Northern Virginia. Being mostly slow, over-educated rich kids, the score remained nil-nil late into the fourth. With five minutes to go, a young DE you now know as the Nabob blocked a punt out of the back of the end zone resulting in a safety and a 2-0 lead. With time running out, TJ lined up for a long, game winning field goal. The stands erupted as it sailed wide. But luck was with those nerds that day. There on the brown grass was a yellow flag. Off-sides on the defense. The aim on the second, closer kick was true.
The final score of 3-2 was some sort of Virginia high school football record in futility but I can’t remember which one. I do remember the name of their place kicker, though, and whenever I meet someone who went to TJ I curse him.
So maybe I am a little glad that there is mold in the classrooms that gives everyone asthma. Maybe the next generation of student athletes will find their kicks fall just a bit short.