Sofa Off the Balcony

I'd like to tell you about an event that happened last week.  I would have told you about it earlier, but I'm so freakin' busy, most of the really good ideas I have for blog posts end up being filed in the back of my mind and eventually lost to other good ideas.  This post isn't really a great idea so much as it is a telling story.

Last Wednesday, my staff and I were sitting in the computer lab for PD on this new open-source grading system our school bought called Moodle.  Mid-way through the PD our assistant principal (who was running the PD) gets a phone call from the office secretary downstairs.  She stops the PD to answer the phone and has a conversation that goes something like this...

"Hello........what?!?!.......THAT'S INSANE!!!!!........I don't know what to do.........Did you call the principal?.........No, I don't know where she is...............Where's security?........I can't help you; I'm doing PD.............That's insane...........okay."

Then she tells us that some students stole a sofa out of one of the classrooms or offices on the second floor, carried it to the balcony in the auditorium, and threw it over onto the chairs on the main level.

About half-an-hour later, our principal came in quite distressed to inform us that it was kids from our school (there are seven schools in the building) who had done it.

I remembered thinking, "I know exactly who it is."  I thought this because I'd seen a few kids come back downstairs after lunch (they eat on the sixth floor) with redness around the eyes and strange smiles.  Some of our kids have an annoying habit of getting drunk at lunch and acting awfully for the rest of the day.  We have a few who are obviously alcoholics (as a result security is now confiscating, in addition to cell phones and ipods, drinks that aren't sealed).

The principal told us who did it, and everybody was shocked.  Taking a sofa and throwing it over a balcony is fucking crazy.  I remember hoping they were on mind-altering substances because anyone who does that while sober is missing more than a few cards from their deck. Teachers on staff were all very upset.  If anyone had been sitting in the seats on the lower floor of the balcony where the sofa landed, they would be dead.  The wood in the chairs was shattered.  And the principal said you could see in the security camera that when they threw the sofa over the balcony, they didn't take anytime to look and see if anyone was sitting down there.

So the next day, I gathered all of my classes in a circle and had a discussion with them about the incident, why it's important to respect school property, and how ludicrous it is to do something like that.  The mood was somber, and they all agreed with me that it was sad that anyone would do that.  On the other hand, my classes all ran smoothly because everyone knew I was in no mood to put up with their poor attitude.

The next day, word came out that the students were, in fact, not ours, despite the administration's being adamant that they were on the previous day.  Rumors spread that the administration began to worry that if the students who did it were undocumented, they would be deported.  So, people wondered if the administration, not wanting to see them deported, avoided moving forward in taking action against them.  I seriously doubt those rumors were true.  They didn't add up, but it was weird that the administration went from being very sure that they were our students one day to saying they weren't the next.

All in all, it was a disturbing incident and a reminder that although I love working with my students, they're often very different when they think nobody's watching.


  1. RE:

    Watch the British documentary Seven-Up. Pay particular attention to Bruce, the teacher, at various ages but make certain you view him at the age of 49. There might be an important lesson for you.

  2. In her day, I think Linda/Retired Teacher has seen many a sofa thrown from the balcony, figuratively speaking, of course. That has made her wise, and real believer in education reform.


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