Principal Hates Underachievers, Overachievers

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Vol 41 Issue 20

Local Man Pushed Well Within Limits Of Human Endurance

DURHAM, NC—In the face of reasonable odds, Louis Collins, 27, endured a challenge Monday that tested, but did not by any means exceed, his ability to persevere. "The line at the DMV was really long, and I had a lunch meeting at noon," said Collins, recounting the inconvenient event that ultimately did no lasting damage. "Then I realized that I still needed to fill out a form, but I didn't have a pen. If I had left the line to use a pen at the counter, I would have had to start all over. Thank goodness someone in line lent me one." In spite of the unremarkable series of obstacles, Collins still arrived at lunch on time.

Area Dad Saw A Great Show On Bigfoot Last Night

LANCASTER, PA—Much to his family's indifference, 44-year-old father of two Bradley Kochner said he enjoyed an interesting show about Bigfoot on the Discovery Channel last night. "They had some neat footage that was shot in Oregon," said Kochner at the dinner table, describing the one-hour Legends Of Sasquatch special, in a desperate attempt to reach bored sons Joel, 13, and Kyle, 11. "If they show it again, I'll tape it. Maybe we can watch it together. Right, guys?" Kochner's wife Laura said her husband has similarly tried to engage his children in discussions about submarines, UFOs, and Pompeii.

Author Dismayed By Amazon Customers' Other Purchases

MONTREAL—Yann Martel, author of the Booker Prize-winning Life Of Pi, said he was distraught to see what other books Amazon.com customers bought in addition to his. "Customers who bought this book also bought The Five People You Meet In Heaven?!" Martel read from his computer screen Monday. "And The Rule Of Four? Really?!" Martel was also surprised by the "sloppy writing" in many of Life Of Pi's five-star customer reviews.

Paroled Prisoner Excited To Hear The '80s Are Back

BLYTHE, CA—Former Chuckawalla Valley State Prison inmate Jake Allen Dupree, 42, who completed a 20-year sentence for armed robbery last Friday, said he is excited to hear that '80s styles are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. "When the guard handed me my stuff, he said my acid-wash jeans, Kangaroos sneakers, and bright teal T-shirt looked really cool," Dupree said. "It's great that I won't have to buy a new wardrobe." Dupree added that he was happy to hear that Miami Vice was recently re-released, so he can find out what happened to Crockett and Tubbs.

WTO May Accept Russia

If negotiations go smoothly, Russia may be invited to join the World Trade Organization in 2006. What do you think?

Horoscope for the week of May 18, 2005

Not that anyone asked you, but if you were designing the world's biggest jetliner, you would've put some sort of flat surface under the passenger cabin, for people to stand on.

Celebrity Commencement Speeches

A growing number of American colleges are enlisting celebrities to deliver speeches at their commencement ceremonies. What are some of this year's highlights?

Yes, Sweetie, Mommy's Heard Of Gil Scott-Heron

Hello, sweetie! I didn't expect you home so early. Here, hand me your backpack. Ooh, heavy! So, how was your week? Well, I'm glad. College is sure fun, isn't it? Yes, it is! So, what did you learn today? Well, imagine that. You don't say? Yes, yes. Uh-huh. Yes, sweetie, Mommy's heard of Gil Scott-Heron. Have a piece of fruit instead, honey, that cake is for dessert tonight.
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Principal Hates Underachievers, Overachievers

ST. CLOUD, MN—According to 58-year-old Charles Van Hise, principal of Harriet Bishop High School and a 26-year veteran of the St. Cloud School District, too much of his staff's time is devoted to "problem students" who require special disciplinary or scholastic attention.

Van Hise patrols his school's hallways looking for students performing too far above or below the line.

"It's the oldest story in the world," Van Hise said. "The squeaky wheels get the grease. I have them in here every day. Today it's to complain about 'intellectually lazy' teachers; tomorrow, I'll bet you anything it's the elimination of the arts program. And I swear to you, if I have to break up one more rumble in the hallway, I'm going to snap."

Van Hise lifted his blinds to reveal a small group of students eating lunch in the courtyard.

"Excuse me one moment," said Van Hise, leaning out his window to address the gathering of students. "That music is not allowed on campus! Extinguish your incense, please."

Returning to his seat, Van Hise said, "Those honors-program students think they own the school."

Harriet Bishop High, which once had one of Minnesota's highest rates of physical violence among students, recently turned its record around, reducing in-school violence by 22 percent through programs initiated by Van Hise, who has a reputation as a staunch disciplinarian.

"These items were confiscated from high-school students, believe it or not," said Van Hise, displaying a cardboard box containing brass knuckles, a Swiss Army knife, and several issues of Daniel Clowes' Eightball comics. "It goes without saying that the students who brought these items into my school are long gone."

Van Hise credits the success of his program to those teachers who have volunteered to patrol the hallways during their off-periods, keeping an eye out for "class-cutters and music-heads."

Troublemakers at Harriet Bishop High propose/mock the idea of a Latin club.

"I'd have time to do that myself I didn't spend half my workday addressing the busybody club's concern du jour," Van Hise said. "Every time I turn my back, there's another petition on my desk. Look, I have one right now. It's the same thing every year. We hold student-council elections, the student body selects its leader, and the next day, like clockwork, I have a team of kids in here chewing my ear off about the unfair vote-counting practices and... I don't even know what, to tell you the truth."

Harriet Bishop High narrowly escaped federal discipline last fall, when the student body succeeded in lifting its aggregate standardized-test scores out of the danger zone. According to Van Hise, the upsurge occurred "with no help from the bottom feeders."

"We are running a school here. Not a gymnasium. Not a... a... a... roller derby. And certainly not a Model U.N.," Van Hise said. "I've got the same advice for all of them: Sit down, shut up, and you'll be out of here in four years."

That afternoon, strolling the hallways with a bottle of acetone and a rag, Van Hise wiped the words "cock smoker" from his portrait. Later, he paused before a display case devoted to football awards. Taped inside of the case was a poster titled "The Three Pillars of Education." Two of the columns, labeled "Academics" and "The Arts," were crumbling. The third, labeled "Sports," was pristine, reaching to the clouds.

"You'll notice whoever drew this... cartoon... didn't care to sign his name to it," said Van Hise, searching his key ring for the display-case key. "You tell me: Should we have more people watching over the theater kids while they paint their sets, or should I make sure someone's keeping tabs on the school on weekend nights when some kid wants to break in here and vandalize my office?"

"One of them coated my office floor in Vaseline," Van Hise added. "I nearly busted my head."

Van Hise was not pessimistic in every respect. He reserved his esteem for a certain set of "solid, devoted, quiet-minded students."

"Solid, average students who aren't causing trouble and aren't trying to attract any undue attention to themselves," Van Hise said. "Your Average Joes and Plain Janes. They're the ones who bring our scores up. No question in my mind. The rest just cancel each other out."

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