Fourth-Graders' Button-Making-Machine Privileges Suspended Indefinitely

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Manager Hates To See You Go

DURHAM, NC—Twist 'N' Shout manager Dale Fontana expressed deep regret Monday over your decision to leave the mall pretzelry. "Well, you've been a good employee, no doubt about that," said Fontana, folding up your returned uniform. "It'll be tough to replace you at the register." Fontana added that, should your new career not work out, you would always be welcome back in the growing field of pretzel preparation and retail.

Amsterdam Tourist Can't Find 'Kind Bud' In Phrasebook

AMSTERDAM—While on vacation in Amsterdam Monday, Atlanta resident Brad Haines, 22, struggled to find the Dutch translation for "kind bud" in his Berlitz pocket guide. "Man, I read the entire 'food and restaurant' chapter twice," he said. "It's not in there anywhere." Haines noted that he did at least learn that Amsterdam waiters will not bring the check to the table until specifically asked.

Monkfish Wishes Monkfish Weren't All The Rage

BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME—A local monkfish bemoaned the culinary trendiness of his species Monday. "It's nice to be the fish of the moment," said the monkfish, avoiding one of the many fishing lines littering his Gulf of Maine seabed ever since the October issue of Gourmet proclaimed him "the new dorade." "And, yes, my flesh is firm, sweet, low in fat, and similar to lobster. But it hardly compares to the pleasures of, say, a nice sautéed tilapia with lime." He further urged people who feel they must consume members of the Family Squatinidae to try angel sharks, which he described as "assholes."

NBC To Add Dateline: Flursday

NEW YORK—Seeking to capitalize on the success of its nightly newsmagazine, NBC announced Monday the addition of Dateline: Flursday to its schedule. "Now, you can turn to Dateline for incisive, in-depth reporting eight nights a week," NBC News president Neal Shapiro said. "Look to NBC as the news leader—Flursdays and beyond." If the new program is successful, the network plans to add Tuednesday and Fritaturday editions.

Woman With Sore Throat Thinks It Might Be Anthrax

NEW YORK—Alicia Dubrow, 23, an assistant copy editor at Shape magazine, expressed fear Monday that her recent sore throat is the result of anthrax. "I haven't had a sore throat in, like, two years, and suddenly I get one," said Dubrow, searching WebMD for information on symptoms of the disease. "I've also sort of had a backache lately, which is weird." Dubrow, who made a mental note to watch closely for reddish-brown sores, said she dropped by the Shape mailroom last Friday to grab a box of rubber bands but does not recall handling any packages.

Dad Immediately Hands Phone To Mom

SAGINAW, MI—Emotionally distant father Bill Wolk, 55, immediately handed the phone to his wife Monday upon identifying the caller as his daughter. "Oh, hello, Jessica, I'll get your mom," said Wolk, passing Jessica off before she even asked for anyone. In the past five years, Wolk's most touching display of fatherly affection was a 1996 remark that Jessica "marched nice and straight" with her high-school band in the Rose Bowl parade.

Anthrax Hits The U.S.

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Fourth-Graders' Button-Making-Machine Privileges Suspended Indefinitely

THOUSAND OAKS, CA—The button-making privileges of Mrs. Orlowski's fourth-grade class were suspended indefinitely Monday, when an estimated 15 students were found to have used the Harrison Elementary School button maker to create "wholly inappropriate" buttons.

A handful of the confiscated buttons sit on Mrs. Orlowski's desk.

"These students were trusted with school equipment, and they betrayed that trust," said teacher Karen Orlowski, 47, holding a pair of confiscated buttons reading "Suck My Ass" and "Farty Fart." "I signed this button maker out of the school supply closet so that the students could spend their lunch hour creating fun, colorful buttons for the upcoming student-council elections. Instead, I return to find this."

Continued Orlowski: "Those buttons were supposed to read 'Robert K. For Treasurer' and 'Danny Carter For V.P.,' not 'Mrs. Yanofsky Has Big Boobies.' Until someone comes forward with the names of all the students involved, I am forced to punish everyone."

At approximately 1 p.m., Orlowski returned from lunch to find students hurriedly gathering the scissors and scraps of paper that littered the floor and collecting buttons in different states of completion. She said she didn't think to inspect the buttons closely until she noticed Lindsay Chao, 10, wearing a button bearing the image of Marie Curie with a beard drawn onto her face.

Chao, one of the few students willing to discuss details of the incident, said she and her classmates started out with the best of intentions.

"We were honestly making buttons for the election for, like, a long time," Chao said, offering up four "Alyssa 4 Prez!!!" buttons as proof. "But then, Amanda [Petrakis] made this one that said 'Justin Timberlake 4 President,' and it just sorta went downhill from there."

According to Chao, after the Petrakis breakthrough, the buttons began to escalate in humor value, with each student trying to top the last one. Particularly aggressive in their efforts to push the envelope, Chao said, were the boys.

"The girls were doing a lot of buttons about stuff they liked, like The Backstreet Boys and horses," Chao said. "But then the boys started doing all these mean, funny ones, like 'Student Council Sucks' and 'Mr. Cecil Is Gay.' One boy made, like, 10 different buttons calling different people gay."

Fourth-grader Jordy Cohn proudly displays one of his creations.

Before long, the slogan-driven buttons deteriorated into more random, visually oriented ones, with students making buttons out of magazine clippings, stickers, and items found around the classroom. One button depicted the hind quarters of a rhinoceros—an image cut out of an old issue of Ranger Rick. Another contained a section of a math worksheet, while another contained a piece of lint.

"Nobody meant to do it," Chao said. "It's just so fun to pull down the handle and have the button drop out all made. Some kids were making them just to hear the sound."

Orlowski said neither Chao nor any other student has been willing to "rat out" all of the conspirators. Even students known to have been involved are claiming to have been in the bathroom during the incident.

"From the number of improper buttons made—I've personally seen at least 50—this was not limited to the nine kids in detention," Orlowski said. "As far as I'm concerned, everyone wearing a button not related to the student-council elections is guilty. From the look of things, that's almost everyone."

Though the students clearly acted improperly, some Harrison staffers are blaming Orlowski, citing her willingness to let the students use school equipment unsupervised.

"I wasn't sure why Karen let those kids use the button maker in the first place—it's not even pep week. But at the time, I didn't think it was my place to say anything," school secretary Millie Barthes said. "Well, I'm just thankful the machine came back in one piece."

The button-making machine, a Badge-A-Minit™ I, is kept in the main-office supply closet and is available for classroom checkout from Barthes. The school purchased the machine 14 years ago for $79, a hefty sum that, according to Barthes, clearly indicates that the machine is not a toy. In May 1987, days after the school's acquisition of the button maker, Barthes made a sign that has remained taped to its base ever since: "For classroom use only! Do not waste materials! They cost $$!!"

According to school principal Dr. Richard Wagner, such incidents have unfortunately made it necessary to keep school equipment under lock and key. Wagner said that every piece of restricted equipment is the result of a specific incident of tomfoolery.

"We have to lock up the balls and playground equipment so they don't end up on the roof," Wagner said. "Kids have to go to the janitor to get bathroom supplies or we risk another Jeremy Sachs. He's also why we can no longer use the honor system for extra milk in the lunchroom. Then there's the photocopier. I'll never forget what happened with the photocopier."

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