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Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)
TITLE: Breaking the Rules
By Blantina Jones
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Mrs. Crabtree picked up the paper plane and laid it gently on her desk. She walked up to the chalkboard and began to write, then stopped. “It’s nine o’clock . . . ” her words came out sharp as she leaned forward, eyes squinting, probing the faces of all her 32 students. They squirmed beneath her stare as if she possessed x-ray vision. “I will give you 20 minutes to come clean” she said, jabbing the chalk at the air for emphasis. When you are ready to confess, please come and see me. She turned and continued writing on the chalk board. She heard whispers and murmuring behind her, then a dead silence hung over the class room for what seemed like a long, long time.
The ticking coming from the large clock above the chalkboard seemed to get louder and louder. As the minute hand drew closer, the children stirred nervously and looked at each other and then at the boy who was tracing with his finger the outline of letters that had been carved on his desk. Mrs. Crabtree was quite sure who “dun it” but she had no proof. Not yet. She didn’t want to turn the children against each other so she had not encouraged tattle-taling but she was getting desperate. She was going to find out the truth, even if she had to break all the rules to do it! Her eyes fell on the perfectly folded paper plane laying on her desk.
“Time’s up!” Mrs. Crabtree bellowed. She got up and walked around the room, her hands folded behind her. “Mattie would you please come to the front of the class. She summoned her, gesturing with her hand. “Rules are to be obeyed!” Mrs. Crabtree said in a menacing tone. “Please tell us what the assignment is for today.” Mattie turned to face the chalk board and read the assignment out loud, “Write the ten class rules posted on the wall five hundred times”her voice quivered. There was a commotion followed by disgruntles and complaints no one challenged her. “When you have completed the assignment...” Mrs Crabtree paused for a moment thoughtfully. Slowly she repeated the word “assignment” in a long drawl, savoring the vowels as if she had just bit into a tasty morsel. She inhaled with a confident air about her and continued “but before we do that, we are going to play a little game - a contest of sorts” she snorted with delight at the brilliant thought that had just flashed across her mind. Her eyes twinkled as she dashed for a pile of paper.
“We are all going to build paper planes!” she squealed. Who ever builds the best plane, wins the prize! And the winner won’t have to do the assignment. Each child’s eyes and mouth opened wide with exuberance at the possibility that they might be the lucky one.
They all got busy. Soon the children began to bring up their creations. Mrs Crabtree closely scrutinized each one and then dropped it into the garbage can to the amazement of each child. Gasps and unbelief contorted their young faces as each best effort was discarded like trash.
Then it was Mike’s turn. Seeing that everyone else’s plane had been discarded, he was confident his would be the winner. He proudly handed Mrs Crabtree his finest work of art. And she held it up admiring it as though it were a priceless possession. Mrs Crabtree watched with great interest as Mike showed off the wings and tail where he had folded them in just the right place. He directed her attention to the nose where he had pinched it ever so slightly so as to give it the extra lift when air bound. It was indeed a brilliant master piece. One in a million ... And it looked exactly like the one that sat on Mrs. Crabtrees' desk.