I will never forget that small but charmingly wannabe huge institution of learning, Pine View School, an experimental type of Sarasota Florida public school for a broad range of age groups at an accelerated level, this last fact only relevant so you can put into perspective brains behind the games. Oh we were a weird bunch all right. Boys and girls alike, we got quite a kick out of pushing the boundaries of the school’s rules and regulations to their utmost extent. We took risks, but we also wavered on the edge of the line between cool and complete dorks, which essentially means we were spontaneous and reckless, but without fail, consistently pulling stuff off.
At most of the public schools in my town the cool kids could be found bullying a dork behind the dumpster and stealing his lunch money. At Pine View School For the Gifted, as they like to self promote themselves, that popular crowd had better ideas for practical jokese. Burn the biggest geek’s hair with a magnifying glass during lunchtime on the outdoor picnic tables. Even better, that same geek in question, the one known best for his obsession with extraterrestrials and Studebaker cars (we were in seventh grade), would happily sit still during these pranks and practical jokes occasions with his head tilted just so, in the sun, and he’d chuckle as the tips of his hair began to burn. This happened at lunch daily for about three weeks until the cool boys moved on to more elaborate pranks and practical jokes. Here were some of the most memorable of the bunch:
The Guerrilla Key Confiscation
This mass move to confiscate an enormous hoard of mysterious keys to drawers and cabinets located throughout the school’s various classrooms occurred during the school field trip to check out our brand new campus.
For a quick background on Pine View School Sarasota, Florida, to help clarify some of the bizarre ideas for practical jokes that my elaborate congregation of true to the very word, “dorks” would play in attempt to rebel, become popular, alleviate anxiety caused by ADHD or whatever reasons kids in middle school act out, I should give you a quick visualization of where these antics took place.
Pine View School, for its several original years in operation, existed as nothing but a long strip of land covered with wooden pavilions known as “portables”. There were also a handful of picnic tables sprinkled about in between the arrangement of these flimsy wooden contraptions. The original Pine View School Sarasota was a disaster waiting to happen, with all of the hurricane scares this part of Florida seems to get, not to mention it was starting to feel claustrophobic and weird, considering the particular population that gathered there.
Oh just another odd attribute of our beloved Pine View School, it was so open minded, so committed to “excellence in education” that they barely discriminated with age. As long as you passed the eight hour entrance test, you could be 10, 13 or 17 and they’d welcome you with open arms. It got a bit weird though when the 12th grade seniors would find themselves studying in our, again, outdoor lunchroom, alongside a loud group of second graders. It sounds almost unbelievable to me now, but yes, this school did in fact mix kids all the way from second through twelfth grade in the same very small environment.
You think that sounds odd, that is only the beginning. This school it seems was an outcast itself, whether you consider that a positive or negative thing, in the world of public school education and I suppose the kids that went there just happened to go along with the territory. Let me now get back to the practical jokes. The Guerrilla Key Confiscation…
I described the random strip of grass and shoddy portable pavilions as the original Pine View School Sarasota because that very tiny area of land is now something commercial. In all honesty, I’m not sure what they ended up building there but there was such little square footage to work with I can’t possibly see much more than one or two stores and a parking lot being feasibly comfortable. Anyway, a new Pine View School was built very far away in the vast no man’s land type of area that makes up one of Sarasota County’s borders, known as Osprey. We had to make the awkward transition from old beaten up campus to the so squeaky clean that it smells bad new Pine View (stocked with brand new color coded buildings by grade and school subject no less) during my seventh grade year. We had to make the big switch upon returning from that year’s winter vacation, but I can recall at some point prior to taking that last break, we ventured out on a giant field trip extravaganza to check out what were to be our new educational surroundings. That field trip is the time when the guerrilla key confiscation took place.
Basically this grand theft, which would conceivably allow dozens of student’s access to important and widely distributed classroom fixtures happened for really no other reason than a wickedly rampant trend of sheer adolescent desire for acceptance. It began with one or two wise ones slipping a couple keys in their pockets that they happened to notice, more than likely while fidgeting with the built-in science lab style tables that presented themselves identically in every single room on campus. Then, of course, one or two other kids witnessed the event and gossiped to their friends about it, and after a while gained the guts to take a couple themselves. There were plenty to go around, as these golden keys, two on a ring, were in every drawer in every table in every classroom of this grade 2-12 accommodating school campus.
That was one tier that took off. Then, more directly was obviously the bragging efforts by the original thieves to begin with and that strand of the day’s hot gossip I can only imagine went further and faster because this time each storyteller in the chain could actually say they heard the story from the source directly. Just like any gossip, the word spread very fast and you might only imagine how fun this daring feat was in comparison to the alternative which was listening to stern authorities act as long winded tour guides. I mean, c’mon, what did these teachers expect of us? So basically, that’s the key confiscation story in short. Everyone shared their own little part of the act, unaware at the time that their idea to copy the trend setting bad asses was not so original, and what resulted was a randomly distributed collection of I would like to guess at least 300 golden classroom keys. It was a classic adventure, silly and pointless of course, looking back, but if nothing else a quintessential example of sociological trends at its best not to mention quite an awesome rush.
The You Make the News Ultimate Face Off
Another particularly memorable Pine View School nerd style prank, one that, in fact, I happen to be one of the proud pioneers of, I have officially titled the “you make the news ultimate face off”. This prank naturally was my favorite of all I was aware of and not just because of ego boosting factors but also because, spanning over about four months length of time, it delivered the most intellectual stimulation and entertainment benefits. This one happened just about every Friday afternoon for most weeks of about half of our seventh grade year.
This was no ordinary joke, however, pulled by one individual out of the blue, mind you, there were actually four of us involved in this you make the news challenge. We put very misplaced effort into it. You see, the game had two parts, the first resembling a real class assignment and the second being the heart racing, and giggle stifling sounding board. Every Friday a portion of our class time in Physical Science was devoted to discussing current events. Each student was supposed to have found something worthy of interest in the newspaper the night before, summarized it in a few paragraphs and then shares it with the class the following day. Well of course my table of four routinely forgot to find some news in the paper and found ourselves panicked come each Friday .
But then our teacher became permanently ill and we were left with a rather ditzy and gullible substitute. It was sad about our instructor but we took full advantage of the situation, as probably any middle schoolers who could have would have. That is, each Friday we began making up our own news stories. I can recall some really humorous ones and many that were completely unbelievable . At first the goal was to make up some fake news that sounded realistic. But after a while we got more gutsy and that’s when we challenged each other : Who can make up the most ridiculous national news story without getting caught or laughing in the middle of the presentation to blow our cover.
We were pretty hard on each other I might say, though I guess that’s what added to the excitement. One of the toughest members of our little sounding board, just loved to ask us real specific questions during the presentation such as what school the researcher studied at who determined the supposed fact I was trying to make believable? We also liked to ask each other what towns certain things took place in as well as our documentation on the opposing viewpoint. We were sure rough on each other but as many times as each of us got up there stumped, we all managed to continuously pull through the giant joke and make that story sound believable. We almost (not quite, but almost) felt horrible when the ditzy sub would get sympathetic and devastated over some of the tragedies that would happen in the news articles we discussed.
We never did get in trouble for the news stories. Part of me wants to say I wasted a whole year putzing around with my classmates doing silly immature non-academic distracting things during class period, but I still maintain I learned a lot. For one, I learned from what the people with real current events stories presented. Two, I had the opportunity to really practice developing my imagination. Three, I learned how to react under pressure and finally, I did believe it or not learn how to write a decent news summary, whether the information was factual or not. The introduction, body/text and conclusion were all there, fit with quotes and great punctuation. What more could they want?