September Bloom: "W.O.K.E. High School Rules"

Thanks to Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI) in New York City for inspiring this month’s Blooming Good flash fiction story titled W.O.K.E. High School Rules. I started kindergarten in 1960 and graduated in 1973 and still embrace LREI’s mission.

A leader in progressive education since 1921, LREI teaches children to be independent thinkers who work together to solve complex problems. Students graduate from our diverse community as active participants in our democratic society, with the creativity, integrity, and courage to bring meaningful change to the world.

"W.O.K.E. High School Rules"

school building

Marge sat on her stool at the kitchen counter studying W.O.K.E. high school’s website because her twins were starting 9th grade the next Monday.

“Oh my, first assignment, the boys have to write a poem about a group of people they don’t like, why, and how they’d reverse their negative sentiments,” Marge said, scrolling down the list of school assignments and behavior rules.

“No kidding?” said Bernie, sipping coffee while watching hummingbirds battle for control over one of the five feeders they’d hung outside. He didn’t get that senseless squabbling. There was plenty of food to go around.

“Then the first rule written here says all kids have to interact with everyone at school – shake hands with staff, compliment classmates, and high five sport competition opponents. They capitalized ‘EVERYONE’,” Marge said.

“Everyone? You think they really mean everyone, Marge?”

“That’s what it says right here, honey.” Bernie rushed to the counter, stooped over Marge, and perused the W.O.K.E. High School fine print he’d skimmed when they’d arrived and started unpacking.

Bernie had driven his family long distance again for the move to another military base after being promoted staff sergeant last July. This was their fifth home in eleven years. While Bernie immersed himself in his new duties, selecting schools fell into Marge’s court because she excelled at scoping out ones with suitable social and curriculum standards. Long-time military friends had shared W.O.K.E.’s reputation for strict discipline and character building. Even though it was the only high school nearby, they guessed it would be okay.

“Read me the other rules, Marge?” Bernie peeked back at the hummingbirds, wishing they’d simmer down and share, but he knew their nature and figured they wouldn’t.

“The second one says no cell phones on school grounds, no exceptions.”

“Marge, they’re entering high school and forbidding cell phones. Hmmm.”

“That’s right honey, and that parental contract we signed during enrollment last week says we’ll abide by every rule. One infraction: a kid gets a day’s suspension, two and they’re out for a week. And third time, they’re out for good,” Marge said as she closed the computer screen.

“Well, Marge, I guess it all makes sense. Remember what they said W.O.K.E. stands for?”

“Oh course I remember Bernie, it stands for World of Kind Experiences (W.O.K.E.) That’s what we liked about the school, right?”