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An Average Day in Mr. Payne’s Class (F238)

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Every day of my eighth grade year, I walk up the F-Building stairs with my legs trembling, to Mr. Payne’s class. Every day, he stands outside the door, with blue fingers, a stack of warm-ups in his hand, staring off into space, contemplating life. Some days, his eyes are glazed over with fear because he has to teach a group of idiot seventh and eighth graders how to use the British Method on Quadratics that won’t factor.

Children file in, grabbing their warm-ups and calculators, sitting down and punching numbers just like a pack of gifted children. It’s dead silent, until someone sneezes. Then, you realize you aren’t in a gifted, algebra class, because literally every kid in the class has to bless the poor kid who sneezed. For the next two minutes, your ears are bombarded with constant “Bless you,” “God bless you,” “God bless America.” It’s horrific.

This is the average day in Mr. Payne’s class, with his gray beard and sharp blue eyes ripping your soul in half as he stands head of the class holding the “Tablet of Fate,” which is a notebook that determines whether you get a “U” in the class or not. In school, teachers rely on students memorizing things to learn it, but in Mr. Payne’s class, you’ll be so traumatized that your only choice is to remember it.

Every week, you have at least one test. Sometimes you will have two. And I’m not kidding when I say the tests in Mr. Payne’s class are terrifying. The scent of death is so prevalent, that even when a kid sneezes, no one breaths a “Bless you.” When the tests are over, Mr. Payne will get on the soap box, and lecture before projecting the answers on the “Elmo.” Then, after you failed your third test in a row (like me), you get in your “learning flowers” to do some work with your friends like Karl and Srujam.

The reason someone would get into algebra is if they scored over an 80% on the algebra test in the seventh grade or even sixth grade. Unfortunately, I scored 100% and I’m stuck in F238 until I’m standing on the stage, ripe and ready to graduate.

I have fifth period algebra, so over half of my class is made up of seventh graders. This group is called the “Super-Geniuses” (that’s basically what they are even though no one says so). Since they make up a great majority of the class, I only knew one kid in my class, the great and powerful, Isaiah. Not surprisingly, every time I fail a test, he happens to score a hundred. And when I don’t fail a test, he scores one-hundred. He and I have to survive Mr. Payne’s class, together.

Just last week, on Thursday, I failed the quiz for the week. So in a moment of pure, heat-filled rage, I threw my fist down on the desk. My right pinkie hit the spirals of the notebook, and the skin broke, bleeding everywhere! Mr. Payne didn’t seem to notice, lecturing us about how we don’t do our work. He said “I bet if I checked all your notebooks right now, half of you wouldn’t have your work done from the past two nights.”

So I just had to sit there and accept my fate as my blood dripped on my binder. But like a great hero, Isaiah saved the damsel in distress, getting up and searching the classroom for any bandages, or even tissues to tend to my wound. This made me so happy, because all the other kids were just looking back at me, a lack of empathy as they went “Ooo, that’s gotta hurt!” There were no band-aids, not even a tissue (except in the trash). So Isaiah, spared his last napkin for me, unused, white as snow that has not been pissed on yet.

In my last breaths, I hastily wrapped the napkin around my finger, bleeding. As you can see, I survived thanks to Isaiah. Without a doubt, besides putting calculators upside down for sixth period, Isaiah is the best thing about algebra in F238 at fifth period. There are days I wish I had Mr. Payne third period so I can get his class over with, but then I remember Isaiah is with me, so it’s worth it. 🙂

The one other thing that contributes to your grade in Mr. Payne’s class, is notebook checks. They are almost as terrifying as the tests except a tenth of the time. Mr. Payne stands by your desk, takes your notebook from you, and examines it, page by page. Sometimes he likes to read your answers aloud. Since math fills me up with rage, and always makes me angry, I always “vent” in my answers. Sometimes, I start the answer by saying “Look bro…” Other times, when we correct our work, and I get a bunch of problems wrong, I write “FAILED” and Mr. Payne says he’s scared of me.

Often times, during class, you can spot Mr. Payne in the corner of the room, lurking at his computer, drinking from his Costco thermos. He will eye the students who are talking with their friends with his eagle eyes, mentally noting to put them down into his mystical “Tablet of Fate.” Students will look on, horrified, as he marks them down, taking all their hopes with the dots.

I try so hard to do my work really good, to get 5 out of 5. But I guess my weirdness is too much for Mr. Payne, so I get a 4.5. Look bro, the CPM book is really weird. So I need to answer it really weird.

The positive thing about Mr. Payne, is that he is really funny. Even though they are sad, and basically are threats about how kids fail tests all the time and you will be one of them, no matter what you do. One funny thing he did, but it wasn’t THAT funny, mostly sad, was that a 7th grader boasted that he would certainly win the science fair. Mr. Payne, with his sharp, calculating eyes, studied the child head to toe, extremely doubtful. Agreeing, the bet was on that if he lost, he would spend 2 weeks in Mr. Payne’s class for detention. When the child lost the bet, all hope drained from his eyes. He would spend two weeks in Mr. Payne’s prison, F238.

Bro, bro, let’s be real for a second. Mr. Payne has the best class ever. It is super laid back and chill, except for test days (those are traumatizing). He is an excellent teacher with a remarkable sense of humor, and a big heart. His class is fun, and the best way to spend your fifth period (or, to be honest, any period). This article is dedicated to the wonderful Mr. Payne, who, despite his name, is not a pain, but he heals you.


Cerasela Hanseter and Lila Goldenberg


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An Average Day in Mr. Payne’s Class (F238)