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Seal City High School Final Exams – Part 2

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Where we are: It’s finals time at Seal City High School. The seal with the highest score will get a scholarship to the local college. Sandy wants to win it, but Jeremy has some secret plan to finish first. Sandy followed him home and discovered that the secret might be some drink that his mother is giving him.

Jeremy: What if Sandy does win? She’s a nice girl, and she needs that scholarship. I might not even go to college.

Mom: That’s not the point. You can win, and you’re going to.

Jeremy: I need to lie down for a little while.

Mom: Sorry, honey. You only have a week until finals. Drink this.

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Jeremy took the container and looked at it.

Mom: Go ahead. You know it goes down better if you do it fast.

Jeremy: What’s in this stuff anyway?

Mom: I don’t know. Something to make your muscles grow. Just drink it and make your father happy.

Sandy swam away. Jeremy didn’t have a new way of exercising; he was drinking something. He was cheating! But he was only doing what his father told him to do. Jeremy didn’t even know what he was drinking. Was that still cheating?

It sounded like Jeremy didn’t know what he was doing. And it seemed like he didn’t want to do it at all. And it was making him sick. What a mess! What should she do?

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Sandy was sure that he was drinking some kind of human protein or hormone. She had read about humans taking them to get bigger muscles. Jeremy wasn’t going to look like that, was he? She didn’t think that humans with huge muscles were all that attractive. What would a seal look like?

If she told the school, Jeremy would get kicked out. If she told Jacki, everyone would know. That would be too embarrassing. Besides, someone would turn him in.

Maybe she should talk to Jeremy. If he knew he was cheating, he’d want to stop. She knew he was competitive, but she was sure he wouldn’t want to win by cheating.

But he didn’t want to cheat, his father did. Besides, how would she explain how she found out? She had been spying on him.

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When she arrived at the pool, Jacki was waiting for her. They practiced for a few hours, but Sandy couldn’t concentrate.

What was that stuff? How sick was it making Jeremy? She knew she couldn’t win if Jeremy cheated. But she couldn’t turn him in either.

Finals were taken over two days. The weather was perfect; cool and sunny. The first day, the students would be tested on speaking, fishing, and swimming.

As expected, Sandy excelled in the speaking. Everyone was doing well, but she stayed on top. Jeremy spoke last. There was something wrong. He was speaking too quickly and couldn’t stay on topic.

Jeremy fished first. It was a timed test. He came back with 25 fish, completely crushing the old record of 18. Sandy had 16. Normally, she would have been happy with the score, but she knew that she was going to be no match for Jeremy.

Sandy started to cry. It was so unfair! She couldn’t fight whatever his father had given Jeremy.

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Sandy had always been a faster swimmer than Jeremy. But he beat here without showing any effort that day. Sandy watched him, dejected.

But when Jeremy got back on land, he started to vomit. He couldn’t seem to stop. Sandy watched in horror. Was that stuff making him so sick?

Jeremy’s mother was crying and yelling at her husband. The emergency medical team took him to the hospital.

The next morning, the students gathered to take the last two tests. Jeremy wasn’t there. Ms. Hopper, one of their teachers spoke to them.

Ms. Hopper: Jeremy won’t be joining us today; he’s extremely sick. He was given something created for humans meant to make him do better on his finals. Apparently, the party responsible didn’t bother to find out if this substance would hurt a seal.

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Sandy: Is Jeremy going to be OK?

Ms. Hopper: Yes. Luckily, they were able to stop the poison.

Sandy: So, he gets to graduate with us?

Ms. Hopper: Yes. Obviously, he won’t be competing for the scholarship. But his previous work qualifies him for graduation. Now let’s finish testing.

Graduation night.

Jeremy’s parents helped him to his seat. He looked like he had lost all his fat. His fur was dull and patchy. The other seals gathered around to see if they could help.

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Sandy: I’m glad you’re going to be OK.

Jeremy: Thanks, Sandy. And congratulations on winning the scholarship. I’m really happy for you.

Sandy: Do you have any plans?

Jeremy: After this happened, I decided I want to be a nurse. The ones at the hospital were so awesome.

Over the speakers: Everyone please be seated so we can begin.

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2

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

(Thanks to REM.)

My kids graduated from high school on Thursday. They’re not twins, but it’s a long story. Our district doesn’t have graduations for kindergarten, 4th grade, 8th grade, or anything else. So this is a big deal.

On the last day of class (they let the seniors out two weeks before the rest of the district), they had the “Senior Walk”. This is a long-standing, hallowed tradition. The kids put on their caps and gowns and walk through all the halls saying good-bye to their friends. As my son said, his friends were all seniors, so it was just a long walk. Then they walk across the bridge over the road outside. A lot of the parents come and take pictures, and it ends up in  the local paper. I’m waiting for the movie.

In an epic case of cosmic bad timing, one of the students had died from cancer three days before. It gave the kids a chance to honor him with ribbons on their gowns and signs on their caps. That was the only positive – at least they were all together to support each other. And his identical twin. As I said, it was cosmically awful for these kids.

Next up was the Honors Assembly. I had flashbacks to my own. For me high school was socially passable, academically successful. So my mother made me go. It was an extremely long night. Everyone who had won anything had to troop across the stage and be applauded. When my daughter got an invitation, I was not thrilled. Proud, but not thrilled.

When we got the programs, it didn’t look too bad. There was a welcome by the principal (who everyone likes) and the handing out of several scholarships. We weren’t sure why we were there since our daughter had not won any of the listed scholarships, but it looked reasonable.

I should have realized that there would be a catch. We began with a paean to the top ten academic students. Who were sitting on the stage. They presented the names alphabetically in the interests of treating them all equally. Apparently there was no concern about segregating them from the rest of their classmates.

Being mainly academic scholarships, there was a lot of repetition in who was receiving them. The parents all clapped appreciatively, although a lot of us were wondering why they had been invited to see awards given to other people’s children.

Finally our patience was rewarded. Sorta.  After a break, we were treated to a parade of the students with their pictures and awards/scholarships flashed on a screen. It was great. Except they neglected to list the two scholarships our daughter had won from the colleges she applied to. At least her picture looked nice.

My uncle wanted to attend the ceremony. And drive. My daughter had gotten the directions, and it appeared to be an easy drive. But my uncle had a “better way”. I didn’t find out about the “better way” until we were driving past our exit. Long story short – the improvement added a half hour to our drive. If we’d been a few minutes later, the kids would not have been allowed to walk in the procession.

And we would have been sitting behind the stage. Did I mention that one of the main uses for the building is as a sports arena? It’s the home of one of the feeder teams for the Red Wings. It has two parts, but both are set up in a 360 degree viewing pattern.

As it was, we ended up behind the band. As near as I can tell, the individuals all play fairly well, but the director hasn’t taught them to play as a unit. It was a unique rendering of “Pomp and Circumstance”. Over and over as all 500+ students filed in (it’s a consolidated district). Plus the dignitaries and teachers.

The teachers. I’m glad they weren’t the ones teaching my kids manners. Most of them only applauded for a few of the students. Only a few of the students clapped for everyone. I was proud to see that two of them were related to me. I forgave their ability to sleep in while I get up at 2:30a for a few minutes.

Four of the teachers performed the class song, “Don’t You Forget About Me,” by Simple Minds. I love the song and thought it was a great choice. I think the band was more nervous than the kids. At least their parents weren’t recording every move.

The speeches were short and poignantly sweet. During the procession, they made it all the way to the middle of the “A”s before they got a name wrong. A first name. Totally wrong. He probably would have gotten more applause if anyone had known who he was.

Then it was over. And we had to find our kids among the hundreds of people at the bottom of the arena. That (and getting out of the parking lot) took almost as long as the ceremony.