Saturday, July 31, 2021

The pencils of Seminole Middle School

I came across this photo recently online and it reminded me of being a seventh-grader at Seminole Middle School in Pinellas County, Florida. We had moved from Montoursville to Florida in the summer of 1983, and that fall I attended Seminole Middle School, a low-slung, seemingly windowless and mostly charmless building.

It was probably my worst year in public school.

(Which, to be clear, wasn't bad at all compared to some of the nightmare situations kids have found themselves in at school throughout history. Compared to other horror stories, it was a walk in the park.)

I was the new kid, fresh from rural Pennsylvania. I didn't know anyone. I was a victim of some minor bullying, as a couple of fellow students decided to frequently stalk me in the hallways between classes.

My memories of the 1983-84 school year are fairly scant, in contrast to my other grade-school years, before and after. My favorite teacher was a charismatic science teacher named Mrs. Cleary; in fact, she's the only teacher whose name or face I can remember! In gym class, all of the towels were dyed a deep purple. (To make it harder for kids to steal them or accidentally take them home?) I had a one-semester class that was an introduction to architectural drawing. One of my classmates was the son of a former Philadelphia Phillie. In English, I did a book report on The Old Man and the Sea. And the centrally located library was really cool; I especially liked the astronomy section.

But, as I said, the building was just so oppressive, with its long hallways and flourescent lighting everywhere. I found a 2018 tweet that shows the school's interior precisely as I remember it from 1983-84.

Endless hallways, with doors leading into nondescript classroom areas that were partitioned off by temporary walls. (I reckon that was so the walls could be adjusted to account for different classroom sizes in any given year. That's efficient, but it also leads to an utterly bland learning environment.)

I remember the cafeteria, but have no recollection of the food or ever actually sitting down for a meal there. Or talking to anyone during a meal. Near the cafeteria, however, there was a little student store that was open at lunchtime. It was really just a glorified closet with a Dutch door. The top would open and someone would stand behind the lower half, selling items from the interior shelves. And that brings us to my memory. The coolest things for sale were the NFL pencils, each created in the team's official colors. They just seemed like little treasures to me, and so collectible. I'm not sure I even wanted to actually use them.

Anyway, that's it. That's the memory. Do you remember or did you collect NFL pencils in the late 1970s or 1980s? Share your memories in the comments.

Also, if I walked alongside you in the halls of Seminole Middle School in 1983-84, I'm sorry that we apparently never met or hit it off. (Things got much better the next year, for eighth grade, when our neighborhood was rezoned by the county school system and I was bused to Madeira Beach Middle School, which was the opposite of Seminole in every way. Fresh air, windows, friends, great teachers and classes that I remember well.)

1 comment:

  1. I do remember those pencils from school in the early '80s. Despite my strong aversion to pro football or organized sports of any kind, I liked them. Maybe it was the colors and the subtle design with the little helmet silhouettes.