A couple cool things M has accomplished recently.

Earlier in the year, a big group of girls in her grade attended the induction ceremony for National Junior Honor Society. M had never mentioned a thing about it, and when I asked her, she just shrugged. I dug into the student handbook and saw her GPA last spring was 0.3 points too low to get admitted.

M worked really hard in the first quarter of this year, raised her GPA up over 3.6, and a week later came home with an invitation to join NJHS. When she handed the letter to me, she was trying to act cool about it, but you could tell she was really excited. She filled out the application, turned it in, and last week came home with her certificate recognizing her admission into the hallowed halls of that august organization. I mean, I guess it’s august. I have no idea what they do, and neither does M at this point. Not sure if there are meetings, secret handshakes, honors and privileges, etc.

A quick aside to point out that I was never in National Honor Society in high school. I was only a solid 3.3 student throughout my years, for starters. And when I was a freshman, I got in trouble for the one time in my high school years.

Our science teacher floated between our high school and the rival school across the district. Like any teacher worth their salt, she harnessed a class full of kids to do her grading for her. She’d pass out papers from the other school to us, run through the answers, and we’d grade them. Her nights were suddenly free! She was young and attractive so I approved.

Anyway, our papers always came back from the other school with good natured comments on them like, “Ray South Rules, Raytown Drools!” Well, one day we were a little wound up at our table, and I decided I would not stand for the name of our good school to be besmirched by the hooligans from the south side. On a paper I was grading, I wrote, “Q: Why is Ray South so good at basketball? A: Because they’re good at playing with their balls.” Dude, everyone around me thought it was hilarious! Especially since I wrote it on the paper in red ink. And we had to sign our names next to the final graded score, so there was no way they could get blamed for my heroic act.

You can probably see where this is headed.

It took a day or so, but there was blowback. I was sent down to the assistant principal’s office to discuss my transgression. He also happened to be the athletic director, and Ray South had been kicking our asses for years in basketball. He read what I wrote and literally laughed out loud. It was the 80s, he could do shit like that. He quickly coughed, composed himself, and issued me one day of in-school suspension. But there was a gleam in his eye, and a wry smile that let me know I had impressed him with my gumption.

When I reported for my day of in-school suspension, the teacher monitoring the morning session did a double take and said, “I never expected to see you in here.” Same thing for the teacher that came in at lunch. And then the teacher that covered the afternoon. And several of the deadbeats who spent most of their time in the ISS room. “Man, what did you do to end up here?” I thought about saying, “I stabbed someone.” But since most of these kids were headed for jail eventually, I figured they might see me as a threat rather than a badass. I remember getting through all my work for the day well before lunch and then spending the rest of the day reading Basketball Digest and Sports Illustrated. All-in-all, not a bad day.

One of my teachers, though, shook her head the next day and said, “You know you can never be in National Honor Society now, right?” I gave her a dumb look because it never occurred to me that I would want to be in NHS, let alone writing a stupid joke on someone’s science quiz would eliminate me from ever joining.

Oh well. I have a solid story and what are all those geeks who were in NHS back in the late 80s doing now? Probably being lawyers and doctors and titans of commerce and whatnot. But still, I think I came out ahead in the deal.

OK, back to M. Middle schoolers at St P’s have to do a monthly service project. For October their assignment was to get involved in a local issue. They were to research things going on in the community, find something that required government attention, and contact a local official about it. She read about homeless kids struggling to get their homework done and came up with an idea for secure spaces where these kids can do their school work. They would be small kiosks that were covered to keep the weather out, supplied with pencils and papers and good lightning, and had security cameras to keep the kids safe. After putting together all the details, she wrote a letter to the governor with her idea.

On Friday she got a letter back from the governor’s office. One of his outreach staff wrote M a letter thanking her for sending the letter, saying she had some good ideas, and how important it was for citizens to get involved in issues like this. She said the governor thought M was a “fine young Hoosier,” which caused me to laugh out loud. I’ve been here 14.5 years and folks willingly calling themselves Hoosiers still makes me laugh. I’ve been calling her a Fine Young Hoosier ever since.

Anyway, M was beaming after reading the letter. She realized on her own the governor probably didn’t see her letter or direct someone to respond on her behalf. But she still was thrilled to get something back. She carefully examined the signature at the bottom and said, “I don’t think this is a stamp. She really signed it!” which I thought was sweet.