Seventh grade…again

Yesterday I had the chance to go back to junior high, only now they call it a middle school, and next year they change it again to a K-8 configuration.

Levy. On Fellows Avenue in Syracuse.

This was not as traumatic as revisiting my high school was. For one thing, I went to Levy with a bunch of kids I grew up with, and we hadn’t moved or gone through all the other trauma that made 8th-9th grade so ouchy for me. For another, I was an incredibly clueless kid in seventh grade. I’m sure there was all kinds of middle school drama going on around me, but it did not register. I remember feeling tall and awkward, I remember my art class, the gospel choir, and, vaguely, Social Studies. I remember being in a couple of fights and burning my arm on the radiator in the cafeteria. And I remember the long walk there in the winter darkness. Nothing horrible, nothing earth-shattering.

But yesterday was fun. I got to speak to a group of teachers (including one that I went to school with) and a larger group of students.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They were neither clueless nor awkward, though a couple of them were tall. Two of the girls were daughters of women I had grown up with, which was very cool. Syracuse really is a small town. I like that.

I’ve spent today deep, deep into pages. More tomorrow. We might sneak out for some of the local holiday festivities on Saturday. If you don’t want to drive north to Mexico, drive to Syracuse instead to watch my almost-mater, Nottingham High School perform SPEAK on stage this weekend.

QUESTION: What is your strongest memory from seventh grade?

32 Replies to “Seventh grade…again”

  1. my strongest memory from seventh grade…

    well, i was in 7th grade when the 9.11 attacks happened, so my memories center around that. actually, the day after is what i remember most vividly. in art class, i sat around talking with a few other students and our (super-cool) teacher. she told us about how the administration had warned teachers to not let anyone use TVs, radios, or the internet, so we wouldn’t know what was going on. they didn’t tell us anything, and i was really pissed about that.

    i also remember walking into school the morning of the 12th, wondering what everyone’s reactions would be. i didn’t see or hear anything until i got to my locker. the two guys next to me were talking; the first said, “so you know we’re going to war now?” and the second said something along the lines of “hell yeah!” and i thought, “and so it begins.”

  2. Wellwood

    By 7th grade, I was already an A/V geek. This was long before such a title existed, but we knew who we were. The Auditorium had a projection booth that also served as the platform for our two spotlights, far above the stage. As a class, we had done something spectacular, which I do not recall, bet we earned the right to get out of class and have a local radio station do some kind of performance.

    As my fellow A/V geek Tom and I were going to have to miss class anyway for the presentation, our A/V Manager assigned us to the presentation.

    An hour before the presentation, during the one and only rehearsal, Tom and I were ready and waiting, in the “Hot Box” with our follow spotlights all set and fired up to go. The DJ called up to us and asked “So who do I have working for me up there?”

    Tom yelled back “Tom and Jerry!”

    This was pretty funny, even if it was in the last century.

  3. Hmm, definitely when my seventh grade class took a field trip to Virginia. We got to go into a cave in a farmer’s backyard with a guide and spent a good three hours squeezing through tight holes, getting muddy, and making sure to stick together because our guide told us if we got lose, that’d be it.

    When we got to the end of the cave, we turned out all our lights and sat in complete silence. You couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face, and it was a truly amazing experience. I just remember coming out of the cave and not being able to find any blue on my jeans at all. They were pure mud. 😀

  4. All I can really remember was that it was a pretty darn sucky school year. I liked a couple boys- neither of whom liked me back, I didn’t think any of my friends understood me, we moved to a smaller house that I didn’t like much (same town, same school, so thankfully none of that shtuff), and there was a blizzard on my 13th birthday, so I didn’t really get to do anything fun, and my school orchestra program was cut (I never played the violin again). I had huge glasses and braces and I just felt very awkward. But it’s all just a vague blur of a memory now.

    One good thing? It was the year I started my diary, and I’ve kept up with it (with some missing patches) ever since. Probably helped with the whole writing thing I’m trying to do now. 🙂

  5. 7th grade

    I went to Wellwood Middle (FM) they split the students into teams when you moved to 7th grade. If you were lucky enough to make the A Team you had made it! You were preppy, popular and considered very smart. If you made B Team you were considered the exact opposite. Guess what team I made…….. It was the beginning of end for me in that school. It was bad enough I was still considered the “new: kid as I had only been there one year. I also remember it was the year of getting my braces among other things of young women that age. BUT I did meet someone that became one of my best buddies ever, she was new also and we instantly became drawn to one another. I think we saved one another.

  6. My strongest memory is of a longterm substitute teacher bringing in a skeleton that she said she found in an unmarked grave in the lowcountry of SC, and of how she said we shouldn’t tell anyone because she could get into trouble for messing with human remains. And she also got roses one day and she tore them apart and offered them to us to eat and taught us this whole lesson on edible flowers. It was a social studies class, btw. Not science. I think she might have been off her rocker but she was a very good storyteller. 🙂

  7. I went from being on the fringes of the Popular group to being an Outcast, for no discernible reason. However, this way I got to meet my best friend for the rest of junior high, who had been an Outcast since kindergarten but was actually much nicer and more interesting than the people who decided who went in what group. She was an artist. In fact, she still is.


  8. My strongest memory from 7th grade: Social studies class with Mr. Sears and him yelling, “The Grand Poobah!” every once and a while.

    little quirk

  9. I have two: One is transferring from a private, Christian school to a public school because my parents could not afford the tuition for our private school anymore.

    The other is when a friend (we’ll call her A) of a girl I was also friends with (B) came up to me in the girls’ gym locker room before gym class started and told me, flat-out, that B did not want to be my friend anymore. No explanations or anything. I was totally blindsided and so devastated that I sat down and bawled my eyes out. It wasn’t pretty.

  10. I don’t have 90% of my memories of Junior High, I blocked all that out. Only things I do remember is losing my best friend for no reason, this real bitchy Art Teacher that I hated, and not graduating.

    It must be cool for the teacher you had to see a student in the position you’re in. Must be very rewarding somehow. Which reminds me, you met my YA Professor from SJSU (which she said was really awesome) and she told us you’re coming in the Spring? I hope that’s true, I’ve never heard real authors speaking on anything…actually, my professor is the only real published author I know, but she’s not a novelist.

  11. It’s a toss up. I think having duct tape wrapped around my head by some bitch in my shop class, wins though.

    The same girl complimented me one time as we were leaving class. I thought she was being sarcastic, so I gave her a dirty look. She looked confused for a second, then she realized that I didn’t believe her and I realized that she wasn’t being sarcastic.

    I think that’s the first time I understood that if people keep telling you you’re shit (either literally or by their actions), eventually you start to believe it.

    And on the other hand, when she wrapped the duct tape around my head, her best friend stayed after class for at least a half hour helping me get it out of my hair. So I was also reminded that people don’t totally suck.

    It really hurt getting it out of my hair. But I didn’t cry. That’s one of the rules, don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they hurt you.

  12. I remember wearing mismatched clothes because I liked a pair of windpants and one single shirt by themselves and I didn’t care that they didn’t go together. I remember a boy, M, whose locker was next to mine and the photograph of his dog taped inside. I went to a dance and he was there, and danced with J instead, which made him jealous.
    8th grade, everything changed and I was really depressed…I think it was especially hard because that’s when it first “hit” and I was tired and sad. And I remember sitting in Mrs. O’s english class, staring at everyone that were reading. We got to read for fifteen minutes, then write for 15, but I just wanted to sit. Mrs. O made a rule that we would have to read what we wrote each class infront of everyone. I remember her looking at me, waiting for me to stand and walk to the front of the room. I said, “I didn’r write anything” and I remember feeling really sad, and even hearing it in my own voice and I remember her saying “Well, then I’ll have to give you a zero for today.” and I remember not caring. What’s especially interesting is that you asked about 7th grade. Because I remember SPEAK on the shelf behind her desk. I remember reading it, opening it and reading the witty words and feeling tired and reading it some more–only I wasn’t really reading it, I was just staring at the ink on the pages, the ink that formed all the curved letters and words and sentences. Looking back, I can’t even believe I didn’t “see” your book…if only I had read a little further. I think the happiness at the beginning, the first few pages made me turn away. I remember sitting at my desk while everyone else read, and wishing I could be interested in something, anything, because the time was just dragging. I sat and stared and one day Mrs. O said, across the room, “Are you OK?” and I turned to her, surprised and embarrassed and said, “Yes” in the silence, while everyone read, and smiled. I think having her as a teacher was the best thing that could have happened to me..even if she didn’t neccessarily “say anything”, she cared. I send her my writing sometimes now. I think if I hadn’t had such an awkward 7th and 8th grade, I would be embarrassed to send her my writing. But now, as I’m a freshman in college, I understand that she will always care for her students and she will always respect each of us. I guess the first time I truly read SPEAK was when I was a freshman in high school. I fell in love with it.

  13. The Annual 7th Grade Field Trip to Washington DC! We took a bus (very exciting) and tried to watch Roseanne on my friend Mara’s tiny television (very hi-tech). One night we went to see Mame. Another night our social studies teacher told us to dress our best for dinner. We got all dolled up and took pictures of each other in the outdoor hallway of our motel. We were all chattering about what fancy place we were going to dinner, and then our teacher took us to a cafeteria. Complete with deserts spinning in glass cases. So we sat at plastic tables in our very best and ate warmed over sandwiches. The next day we bought astronaut ice cream.

  14. I was in the 7th grade in ’02-’03 at a small Catholic school in Redford, MI (pretty close to Detroit). 7th grade school-wise was pretty meh. Probably the biggest thing that happened to me that year was getting my first computer, brand-spanking new, with a high-speed internet connection as an early Christmas present. It is the single greatest gift I have ever received.

    I also started my first blog the next spring. That summer I met another girl blogger my age from SoCal and we’ve been best friends for 4+ years now and met IRL three times. :3

  15. That was the year I started my first “real” novel (by real I mean the first one that really went anywhere). I don’t really remember much of school that year. I got second place in the school spelling bee. I had convinced my friend to enter (she didn’t want to) and she beat me. Then she won the county bee and went to the bee in DC. We had a bad blizzard that winter and school wasn’t canceled even though only about 25 people (including me) showed up. It was the biggest waste of time. I had my wisdom teeth out, had my first (worst, at least) panic attack in the waiting room beforehand, and went home and wrote a really awesome chapter despite the painkillers and anesthesia. Then I went back to school three days later, where most of my teachers agreed with my parents that I ought to have been home. My parents rented a limo for my birthday. It was a surprise; my friends and I had dressed up in pseudo-medieval outfits for the party, then we saw a limo in the driveway. We drove to a touristy store and walked around in our costumes, garnering lots of funny looks, then we went home and pretended we were defending a kingdom from invaders. The book I mentioned earlier was based on that game.

    It was overall a good year for me, but school was a minor part of it. The course load was so easy for me that it was just an afterthought.

  16. Ha! I have a lot of memorable moments from 7th grade, but I’d have to say the most memorable was my “drama on the ice” episode. We took an all-school field trip to several places each year (we got to pick), and that year was ice skating. My best friend and I both had crushes on the same guy, and a mutual friend somehow found out that my friend liked him and told him! And so of course, she felt bad, and I felt bad for her, and for seeming him feel bad, and it was just very messed up. It’s funny to think about now, though.

  17. My popular friend Sarah decided to teach me how to be popular and get boys to like me. I can’t remember all of her rules but these are a few of them.

    – Wear a particular jacket at least twice a week (because she decided it was cool)
    – Wear my hair down, not in a ponytail
    – Smile at random people in the hall
    – Try and strike up a conversation during study hall (yes, we were supposed to be quiet, but quiet is not cool!)
    – Don’t carry a backpack if you can, because they’re not cool

    Lest you think we then put on our poodle skirts and went to the soda shop, this was 1997. Good grief.

  18. For some reason, I really remember two things:

    1) In my science class, we were talking about qualities of rocks (or stones, or. . .whatever the difference is there, I dunno), and my teacher asked me if I’d rather get a shot from a dull needle or sharp needle (talking about dull/sharp stones, I guess). I responded dull, and she seemed very taken aback, but it’s because for some reason, when she said dull, I pictured a rusty needle, which I viewed as sharp, and I thought that would hurt less, because it would puncture less. Oh, the mind of a 7th grade ADHD student. And

    B) I was asked to play with the 8th grade band because they needed an additional percussionist on a piece, so I came in to practice one day. I sightread through the piece, and I just remember a lot of the 8th graders (mostly trumpets and low brass since they were right in front of me) saying “wow. . .he’s loud.” And I responded, “well, it is marked fortissimo.” Good times. Good memories. Thanks for asking 🙂


  19. “The administration had warned teachers not to let anyone use TVs, radios, or the internet, so we wouldn’t know what was going on.”

    I would be angry too. In my opinion, they had no right to do that. History was happening. They were running a school–whose purpose is to educate–and they chose to pretend that nothing was happening.

    I would bet it’s because they feared panic and chaos. They may have thought they were protecting you. But sometimes life is chaotic, and sometimes it’s more important to know what’s happening in the world right this minute than to go through the “usual” routine.

  20. i think that, yes, they were trying to protect us. i appreciate that, but i would’ve rather known what was happening. the high schoolers knew about it; most classes just watched the news all day and discussed everything.

  21. September 11 happened when I was in 7th grade… and I remember that day with all the rumors flying around very vividly.

    But other than that, we had this great 3 day field trip to the NC beach which was so much fun. We got to learn all about the plants and animals of the Outer Banks, and we even dissected a squid, and wrote our names with the ink from their inksac. oh man, the smell was AWFUL.

  22. *shudder* I still have nightmares about middle school. 😀 We wore uniforms!!

    To answer the question: The time that my friend brought one of those box-things of sushi for lunch and dared me to eat the whole little wasabi pellet. And I did. It tasted like laundry detergent. -_-

  23. Probably the time when a bunch of girls put grass in my hair during track practice and then laughed at me.

  24. i see my leg!

    btw, are you speaking to the cast and crew after the show on sunday? because one of my friends, heard you spoke to levy, and wants to know if you would talk to them..?


    should i put my name?.. i did.

  25. QUESTION: What is your strongest memory from seventh grade?

    Coping from the breaking of many friendships in the previous year and recovering from it. 7th grade was a bad year for me, but luckily it was 5 years ago and I’ve forgotten a lot of the horrible stuff.

  26. 7th and 8th grade were a big long and drawn-out horrorfest, though in high school amazingly it got worse. We’d just moved back to Texas from the Pacific Northwest. I went from a place where I would have been starting at a large junior high school with lots of options for extracurricular activities to a small, crappy K-8 school where our only options were art, band, or choir. I was the bitchy, fat girl with huge breasts. I’m amazed that I even had friends.

  27. 7th grade in the pre-historic era

    7th grade was 1970 and was an amazing time of extremes…the blue bubble suits we wore for P.E. class(nobody looked good)…meeting my first black friend (we had great fun comparing our skin, hair, and speech)… slipping on a lima bean in the cafeteria and sending my tray into orbit…getting on the bus in the morning and rolling the waistband on my skirt so it was shorter, then sharing blue eyeshadow…learning how to sew and cook in home economics (no boys allowed)… good memories!

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