As most teachers can testify students come and students go. Occasionally one will linger in your thoughts after graduation, that special academic scholar, the class leader, a star athlete, an outstanding musician, or a student that brightens your first period each day. This year the student that I will miss is none of these. Most of the time BB is a pain in the rear. He seldom spoke English. Screaming to get your attention was his favorite form of communication. Spaghetti O's is his lunch of choice every day. Standing a mere five feet tall, with very thick glasses, most teeth missing, and the worst chapped lips on the planet BB had the general look of a 70-year-old-man. Oh, did I mention his bowed legs?
At 6:20 A. M., every school morning, the yellow short bus deposited BB on the sidewalk outside of the school annex building. Some mornings he would leap from the bus and run head long into me, screaming, "BB, BB". We would hug before he attempted to explain the toy soldier he always carried. Frequently it was the same soldier. He tried to explain something different about the toy. Then with the abandonment of a puppy, I stopped existing, and he would run into the annex.
Some school mornings he chose to ignore me. He acted out imagined anger that went on for hours. By lunch again he ran headlong to get a hug. On some days he would "hide" under the cafeteria dining table until I acknowledged his prank. BB will graduate this year at the age of eighteen. His grandmother and lifelong guardian decided BB would travel America with her husband and herself in an RV. BB could stay in high school until he turned twenty-two, but the time has come for him to see America.
At 8:30 A. M. I watch from my portable classroom as BB slams through the glass annex doors running to get aboard the yellow short bus. BB participated in the school-to-community work program. His favorite job sight was the Food Lion grocery store. He was also a favorite of theirs. On the event of a man making fun of BB while bagging the man's grocery the manger refunded the customer's money and told him not to return to the store. With the help of a job coach BB loved to work. His favorite assignment was moving food carts back into the store. He was a vision. His five-foot, one hundred pound frame trying to maneuver a string of fifty carts across a busy parking lot was entertaining to the customers. He never lost control of the carts. The parked cars were always safe.
The lesser memory I have of BB is his attendance at the senior prom. The gym is not air conditioned, but it was beautifully decorated. The decorations were lost on BB. He quickly stripped himself of the tuxedo jacket. He “disco” danced and watched the girls. He consumed twenty-three cups of punch drink. He threw up and then fell asleep on the toilet in the restroom. It was a wonderful prom for a graduating senior.
I would like to bask in the glory of my collective teachings I’ve imparted upon BB. I just can’t recall any. However, I can bask in the teachings of BB, like how to smile at 6:20 A.M., or how to bump a lunch line without upsetting the “normal” students, and the way of making people on a job site appreciate how much different their lives could be, or hugging just for the sake of hugging, and how much I miss playing with toy soldiers.
BB is graduating on this fine Sunday from high school. I’m not sure the high school will ever be the same? I know I won’t be the same. He and his family sets out to see America on Monday. Be prepared America, BB is on his way.