Twenty years ago my high school produced a daily “Student Bulletin”. These were distributed to all classrooms, and some anointed student would read the bulletin aloud to all assembled. Typical items in the bulletin included reminders of upcoming events, announcements of policy changes, and congra
dtulations to students for notable (and often routine) accomplishments.
At some point, I and two chums (one of whom was the aforementioned Jamie Babcock) decided to pull an April Fools Day prank. We cooked up our own version, using the header from a purloined copy of an actual Student Bulletin and my ancient manual typewriter . The typeface of my typewriter was almost identical to that which the school used, and to an uncritical eye our counterfeit looked almost indistinguishable to the real thing. At least until you read it.
I would love to say that we used some convoluted and ingenious method of insinuating the fake document into the school bulletin pipeline (and I guess I could, as this blog ain’t exactly fact-checked). Alas, it was not necessary for us to break into the building in the dead of night, or disguise ourselves as the members of Poison.
You see, the distribution system for the Student Bulletin was pretty rudimentary. The school secretary would produce enough photocopies for all the classrooms, and then just leave them in a pile on the office’s main desk during the break following second period. One “student leader” from each class would stop by, grab the top bulletin from the pile, and take it with them to period three.
So on March 31 of 1989 (April Fools Day fell on a Saturday that year) I strode into my school’s office with a stack of fake bulletins under a binder. I set the binder on the stack on real authetic student bulletins, looked around for a moment as if confused, picked up the binder (leaving the payload behind), and high-tailed it out of there. Success!
A few notes of context that will make the bulletin–well, not any funnier, but at least less mystifying:
- The year prior the school had largely abandoned premade meals in the lunchroom in favor of a huge bank of vending machines, which sold everything from sandwiches to juice to ice cream cones. This new system was called “Cafe USA”.
- Two student groups at the school were PAB (Positive Attitude Builders, who held pep rallies and whatnot) and the Wizards of Science.
- The marching band would routinely sell carnations in the before Valentine’s Days, with the various colors of the flowers signifying different things.
Anyway, if you were in Mr. Bristol’s third period world history class that day, this is what you would have heard read aloud.
Coupla notes. First of all, how do you think a student-written document that has kids getting shot and a bomb under a teacher’s desk as its first two items would go over today? Still a laff riot?
Second, I think this definitively proves that my abysmal spelling is not a degenerative condition, but has been a travesty from birth (or at least 12th grade). If anything, my spelling has actually improved a bit over the last two decades. At least now I select the correct there / their / they’re slightly more than the 30% of the time that pure chance would dictate.