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Inner-City High School Installs Ticking Time Bomb As Living Metaphor

CHICAGO—An armed bomb carrying enough C-4 plastic explosive to create a crater the size of one city block has been installed somewhere in George Washington Carver High School on the south side of Chicago. School officials proudly announced the installation of the bomb at a board meeting Monday.

For years students at George Washington Carver High School have lived with ever-worsening drug use, gang violence and teen pregnancy. Now, an actual ticking explosive device has been placed in the building to remind them of the constant spectre of doom under which they live.

“For years I’ve been telling the newspaper and television reporters that our public schools are a ticking time bomb,” Carver High principal Hal Fraklski said. “Now I can point to an actual bomb instead of using a tired metaphor that appears to have lost its effect.”

“The alarming fact is that a typical student here,” according to Fraklski, “is pregnant, in a gang, selling crack, and getting a D- average. Such a student is destined to explode, so to speak, be it to police, drugs, or gang violence. This actual, working time bomb illustrates that fact much better than a mere rhetorical device.”

Added Illinois’s Secretary of Education Milton Hekilj: “We’ve always known that our schools were a ticking time bomb. And while we’ve never known how to solve the problem, we’ve always known that ‘ticking time bomb’ was the perfect metaphor for it. I commend the administration of Carver High School for making that metaphor a tangible reality.”

Funds for the installation of the bomb were diverted from school tutoring and midnight basketball programs. Fraklski said such programs only gave students a false sense of hope, when in reality their futures are horribly bleak.

“We believe building a bomb and putting all of our lives in imminent danger is a much better use for the money,” Fraklski said.

School officials would not reveal the time of the bomb’s eventual explosion.

“The blast of this bomb, whenever it goes off, will blow all 2,200 of our students, faculty and staff into bloody bits, and will reduce the building to a pile of rubble,” Fraklski said. “We feel that this sense of uncertainty is an important part of the message.”

Teachers, staff and administrators at the school are now in just as much danger from the bomb as the students. But, according to Fraklski, since one in five teachers at Carver is routinely hospitalized or killed by students, such odds are true to the metaphor.

And so far, the metaphor is working. When asked how the ticking time bomb made them feel, 94 percent of Carver High students and teachers answered “very terrified” or “panicked.” As one teacher commented, “The feeling of terror I used to have for these students and this prison-like school environment is very similar to the feeling of terror I now have from the bomb.”

“We’re very proud of that,” Fraklski commented. “That means the meta-phor is right on the money.”

The bomb is installed deep within the bowels of the school’s furnace room, yet a special microphone hook-up amplifies its ominous ticking over the school’s PA system, echoing throughout the hallways and classrooms day and night as a constant reminder of the staff and students’ imminent doom.

Carver parents have vehemently opposed the bomb, but Fraklski has stood his ground.

“Parents were never too concerned when their children’s lives were just a metaphorical ticking time bomb, but now that they’re in danger of being blown up by a real time bomb, suddenly there’s great concern. Well, that hypocrisy no longer flies at Carver.”

When parents pressured the administration to simply change the metaphor instead of activating a real bomb, Fraklski refused, saying similes, hyperbole, alliteration, clichés and many other forms of description had been tried, and none has the same power as metaphor.

“We could use a simile and say, ‘Our schools are like prisons without guards.’ It’s okay, but not as good as ‘ticking time bomb.’ We could use hyperbole and say, ‘Our schools are filled with crime all hours of the day.’ Not good either. Nothing has the punch of ‘Our schools are a ticking time bomb.’”

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this story.

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