Good Students Make Good Robots

I was in first grade when

Before Christmas break

I lost one of my papers

That the whole class handed in

Except me

I was told I couldn’t leave

Until I found it

I went into panic

Fearing I’d be stuck forever

In the empty, cold building

Sleeping on the bench of a lunch table

 

I was in second grade when

I had a breakdown in class

When I didn’t get a 100 on a test

My teacher looked worried

It sounds ridiculous but

I was used to nothing less

And I feared

I’d be a disappointment

With a 97

 

I was in third grade when

I realized I had misunderstood

A question from a reading assignment

In a panic, I tried to fix it

I tried to copy everyone else

But I was too scared and started to cry

And I had to sit out of the discussion

Because I was too afraid

Of getting something wrong

 

I was in fourth grade when

The principal came into class

With the school social worker

And told the class that

Our first grade teacher had died of cancer

I was in the middle of a science lab

And my friend and I burst into tears

He went to guidance but

I was too afraid to cry in front of a stranger

So I stayed in class crying silently instead

 

It was also in fourth grade when

My friend and I were yelled at

By a teacher’s aide

For not doing our homework

For our gifted reading class

We hadn’t chosen to join

We had to write letters of apology

And get our parents to sign

I forged the signature

I had to get a note from my mom

I forged that too

On my tenth birthday

On the kitchen table

In my best cursive

Before going to the bus stop

Because I was afraid of getting punished

The aide never found out

 

I was in fifth grade when

I had to write

“I will not write or pass notes in class”

Fifty times in my notebook

Because my best friend and I

Who sat right next to each other

Wrote little notes on post-its

And stuck them to our desks

And we were ratted out

By a substitute teacher who said

We were a great class

Nearly every kid got in trouble for something the next day

 

I was in sixth grade when

We all cried on the last day of school

Even the toughest kids I knew

Had tears in their eyes

I never wanted to leave

I didn’t want to grow up

I still don’t

But now I realize

The day I left that school

Was the best day of my life

This poem is about: 
Me
My community
Our world

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