MUNCIE, IN—The entire fourth-grade class, everyone from Ashley Amberson to Corey Zoellner, hates Jeremy Halcote, sources at John Tyler Elementary School revealed Tuesday.
"The popular kids, the brains, even the bad kids who spend noon hour behind the groundskeeper's shed—they all hate that little pig," Indiana University sociologist Marian Newcomb told reporters Tuesday. "The consensus? Jeremy Halcote is just plain gross."
Halcote, who runs really slow, always looks sloppy, and forgets his schoolwork at home practically every other day, has been despised for as long as anyone at the school can remember.
"Last year, in Mrs. Swanson's class, Chad Vanderhof was in the bathroom with Jeremy Halcote," student Ivan Kinard said. "Well, Chad pushed Jeremy, and Jeremy's hand went right into the toilet. But Jeremy didn't even take his hand out! He just kept it in there for, like, forever."
"He started crying, too," Vanderhof added.
Students forced to stand next to Halcote in the lunch line will leave a four-foot gap between themselves and Halcote in an effort to avoid association with the undesirable fourth-grader, the report indicated. Similarly, no one wants to sit with Halcote on the bus, share an art cubbyhole with him, or collaborate with him in any class, for any reason, ever.
"I'm not going to share a song-time folder with Jeremy Halcote," Alexis Tyler said during music class Monday. "I'm not. I'll go to the nurse's office if [music teacher] Mrs. Cook tries to make me."
"At the Spring Concert last year, I had to hold hands with Jeremy Halcote, so I pulled my sleeve all the way down, so I wouldn't have to touch him," said classmate Christine Halley, commiserating with Tyler. "He didn't even sing. He just stood there breathing really heavy. And he had a cold sore on his lip that started bleeding, because he kept licking it. And he was wearing tennis shoes, even though Mrs. Cook said 'no tennis shoes.'"
Finding a classroom partner for Halcote is a task that usually falls to his teacher.
"Once, [fourth-grade teacher] Mrs. Grant sent Jeremy Halcote out of the room and yelled at us, because no one would be his flashcard buddy," Halley said. "But then Jeremy sneezed right in Kimberly's face during multiplication drill, and her mom called the school to complain."
Although Halcote is in Mrs. Grant's class, students in Mrs. Verkilen's and Miss Willie's fourth-grade classes, who encounter him on the playground and during field trips also hate him.
"Remember the time Jeremy Halcote threw up when we went to the paper mill?" said Jen Lipner, of Mrs. Verkilen's class. "It was so gross. I hate him."
"I hate him, too," said classmate Hilary Taylor, making a sour face.
"Me, too," added classmate Winter Spalding.
Newcomb couldn't find one student who would admit to liking Halcote, who is also known as Germy Halcote, Jeremy Halitosis, and Snotnose.
"Jeremy Halcote's nose is always so full of snot that you can hardly understand what he's saying," Vanderhof said. "He talks like this: 'Mmr mmr mmr. I'm Jeremy Halcote.'"
The investigation revealed another disgusting thing about Halcote: his desk.
"Jeremy Halcote is such a slob," said Tom Durson, the fourth-grader unfortunate enough to have been seated directly behind Halcote. "He keeps wrapped-up cookies and fish sticks from lunch in his desk. His worksheets always have big grease stains on them."
Durson has devised a system for avoiding contact with Halcote-germs when he is forced to correct Halcote's papers.
"If Mrs. Grant puts his paper on my desk, I hold my breath the entire time," said Durson, describing a procedure that other students have begun to copy. "I only touch [the paper] with the tip of my pen, not my fingers. And, if the worksheet has a back-side, I use two pens, like chopsticks, to flip it over."
In addition to having perpetually sticky hands, Halcote earns barely passing grades.
"Today, Mrs. Grant asked Jeremy what a president's wife is called, and he just sat there, not saying one word," straight-A student Melanie Esteban said. "That happens all the time. He didn't even do a dinosaur diorama last week. He spent the whole class pouring glue on his hand and peeling it off after it was dry."
"Last week, Jeremy Halcote threw his own backpack on the roof of the school, and the janitor had to get it down for him," Esteban added.
"Germy will take a ball at lunch hour and then just sit there with it, even though he knows there are only six balls for everyone to use," classmate Karl Harding said. "Then, if you try to get the ball from him, he'll scream that weird Jeremy Halcote scream. The playground supervisor doesn't even bother coming over when she hears him, because he does it all the time."
Newcomb said she collected far more anecdotal evidence of Halcote's outbursts than she could possibly fit into her report.
"I'm not sure whether Halcote's eccentric behavior results from or is the reason for his ostracism," Newcomb said. "Frankly, I don't care."
Newcomb said he was sure of one thing: that Halcote is doomed to remain at the very bottom of the social ladder for the remainder of the school year, unless someone even grosser moves to Muncie.
"Even the kids who live in the Section 8 housing over by the interstate will not go near Jeremy," Newcomb said. "There isn't one fourth-grader who can tolerate the way he talks, walks, eats, smells, kicks at the chair in front of him, sniffs constantly—God, he always seems to be sick, doesn't he? He wipes his nose right on his hand. But if you offer him a Kleenex, he sticks his tongue out at you. He is way too old to be doing things like that. Ugh. Jeremy Halcote. Yuck."