Friday, February 4, 2011

Star Student

Two days ago in English, we were going over grammar corrections we had done as a warm-up. There was a debate over where a comma went in relation to two sets of quotation marks. When the teacher asked how many people thought it went in "A" position, the majority of the class raised their hands. When she asked who disagreed, I was the only one. She asked me what I thought. "It goes inside all of them," I said.

She seemed to become rather distressed at this moment. She threw her arms in the air and started looking around for something. When she turned back around, she was beaming.

I've only been in her English class for two weeks, but I've already learned a couple of things about my teacher: 1) She's a great teacher with a real passion for what she teaches. 2) She's terrifying. So the broad grin she wore as she approached me could have meant death as easily as happiness.

As it turns out, I was right about the comma. What she gave me when she reached my desk was something I had never received before, in twelve and a half years of school: a gold star. I mean, a real, legitimate, gold star sticker.

It's the age-old grade school cliché. Still, I had never gotten one, nor had I seen anyone else get one. Now, in my last semester of high school, in my Honors British Literature class, I may have finally achieved what television teaches every child to strive for but no one ever achieves. I can die happily. Or at least, I can graduate happily.

In fact, I am almost embarrassed to admit just how happy I was. I put the gold star on my notebook, radiating pride, with the biggest and sincerest smile I've worn in a while. I was transported, for that moment, backward through adolescence and cynicism and distrust, away from young (and now legal) adulthood, to elementary school. Back then, I was the kid everyone else hated, because I raised my hand to answer every question and sucked up to the teacher like there was no tomorrow. I have gone through school earning 100's and A+'s and none of those even seem to matter anymore. What difference does a letter make in the long run? What makes a 93 so much better than a 92 that it gets a different name?

Never before had I received a gold star. Yet, that star, that sticker, which holds absolutely no value as far as my GPA is concerned, made me happier than the 99 I got on my History test. It's more honest, in a way. Instead of parading its supposed value on a report card or transcript, it sits, shiny but unpretentious, on my English notebook.

I am never getting rid of it.


  1. Congratulations on your gold star! All the adults you know are very proud of you, you know. But what was the sentence and where did the commas go?

  2. Good Morning from Canada Raz!... Congratulations to "You"... and your mentor for the giving and receiving of "The Gold Star"!

    Your command and love and comamand of language is very evident in your writing style in this blog. However,it is the passion that "You" exude for living your life fully... at so early an age that is most noticeable and commmendable.

    When "heart gifts" are given and received... they are never lost or forgotten. That is their value... and it is price-less and forever!

    Good luck with your studies and future... which seems as bright as the stars! Use that single gold star as your GPS. It will lead "You" past your GPA... and beyond... to who-knows-where!

    I enjoyed visiting and reading and will be back to catch up from time to time!

    Best regards,
    Bruce Sherman

    PS I am a retired elementary school teacher... still handing out gold stars... 67 years age. Life is a journey of endless adventures and Joy...if one wishes it to be so!