As a timid boy of 10 years old, I sat quietly at my desk and patiently waited for the teacher to call my name only to learn I was not on the class roster. It was the first day of fifth grade and I suddenly realized my worst fear — I was in the wrong classroom.
The walls began to close in on me as perspiration beaded across my brow and slurred voices echoed in my mind…
All right, enough of the Twilight Zone special effects. To put it simply – I was unable to find my rightful classroom, thus, failing the first major test worthy of a fifth-grader without even realizing it.
What a way to begin the first day of a new school year.
Fifth grade was going to be a banner year for me. Not only did I hit double digit numbers on my birthday that summer, but I was also going to have my very first male teacher when school started at the beginning of September.
For the first five years of my education, including kindergarten, I had female teachers; so this was going to be a new experience – one that I was looking forward to with great anticipation.
All summer I had heard numerous stories about what cool teachers – Mrs. Narin, Mr. Sicchitano and Mr. Skiles – my brother John had when he was in fifth grade the previous year.
I couldn’t believe he actually had three separate teachers all in the same year. Plus, it was going to be the first year we changed classes for different subjects.
With the exception of fourth grade reading the year before, I was accustomed to being in a classroom with the same teacher all day long; but in fifth grade, we went to a different classroom for every subject.
How cool was that?
With three teachers, two of which were male, it was inevitable that I would have a male teacher for some of my classes; but regardless, I was hoping to have Mr. Skiles for my homeroom teacher just like my brother.
So you see, sometimes having an older sibling was actually convenient at times.
Sure, they were constantly telling you what to do and how to do it; and believe me when I tell you, my brother was an expert at being the boss. But there are those rare moments when being the younger child does have its advantages.
John was always one step ahead of me in school, so he was able to tell me about what the teachers were like and what I could expect the following year; and I couldn’t wait for fifth grade to begin.
The first day of school finally arrived.
As I ascended the two flights of stairs to the third floor of the elementary school, I spied a group of exuberant students clustered together in the middle of the hallway.
They were looking at the class rosters for each of the three fifth-grade homerooms.
I quickly joined the small band of adolescents in an attempt to worm my way into the center of activity and learn the answer to my ultimate question – who was going to be my homeroom teacher?
Just then, I heard one of my former classmates from fourth grade holler out with excitement that Mr. Skiles was his homeroom teacher. My heart leaped with joy. I just knew I was going to be in the same class.
After patiently standing by for what seemed like an eternity, I finally managed to sneak a peek at the coveted class list.
When I saw my name, two-thirds of the way down the page, I automatically assumed it was the class roster for Mr. Skiles and went directly to his classroom at the end of the corridor.
After the tardy bell rang, everyone scurried to their seats waiting for roll call to begin. As our new teacher began to call out the names in his masculine voice, each student announced their presence in response.
Just as I thought he was about to call my name, he whisked right by it and was already on to the next letter of the alphabet before I could even comprehend what happened.
Hey, what about me!?
When the teacher finished roll call, he asked if anyone’s name had not been called. I nervously raised my hand.
I could not imagine why my name was not on the list. I saw it plain as day on the class roster in the hallway not more than 10 minutes before.
Mr. Skiles no more finished saying there must have been some sort of mix up in the school office when there was a knock at the door.
Mr. Sicchitano, the other male fifth grade teacher from across the hall, popped his head into the room and asked if there was a “Mark Price” in the room.
My face must have turned 10 shades of red. I wanted to crawl under the desk.
So much for the mix up in the school office – I was the one that was mixed up. I had been looking at the wrong class list when my name jumped out at me.
When I got to the other room, all eyes were on me. I was a bundle of nerves as I walked across the hallway into my rightful class. That is, until I saw a familiar face named Bobby Kuhn – my best friend.
That’s when I knew all was right with the world.
Mark S. Price is a former city government/county education reporter for The Sampson Independent. He currently resides in Clinton.