The Middle School Years

This post follows “The Tender Years” post. Locations referenced herein can be found on my Artifacts of a Life Bing Maps Collection. Image references herein can be found in my “Artifacts of a Life” reference post.

By this time my parents had split and I was living with my father (I’m sure there’s some overlap in years here; family: please forgive any failed recollections). Mom was teaching high school in Troy and Dad continued his career as an insurance adjuster. Mom met Marvin in 1971, about the time Dad married Susan.

Oddly enough, some of my memories for this period are rather hazy: reader be warned: I’ve done a bit of editorializing here and there. During this time:

  • I bowled on a league every Saturday in Menands. I still love to bowl.
  • I continued my summer read of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy at our family cabin in Lake George. I’ve read it every summer since age 10.
  • I rode my bicycle to bowling and everywhere else, even as far away as Schenectady, where my step-grandparents lived.

I spent seventh, eighth and half of ninth grade at Watervliet High School; in the same building my mom and dad attended twenty years prior (yes: I was “early”). As the town was small, there was only one building for grades 7-12. The school mascot was the Cannoneer .. I’m presuming because of the Watervliet Arsenal.

Due to the number of students for the size of the building, the school had converted much of the basement level into classrooms. Asbestos-wrapped pipes were everywhere, as were nooks and crannies to deliver (or take) a beating. The clock system was Simplex, a Master Clock system (where all clocks were controlled centrally and “chunked” one minute at a time in unison).

Our cafeteria didn’t suck (although it was expected and quite proper to say so); meals were $0.35 in 1970 and jumped an incredible 28% (to $0.45) the in 1971.

I discovered my father sent me my report cards for these years some time ago. I’ve shared these in my “Artifacts of a Life” reference post. I’ll be updating that post as I uncover more artifacts. Given enough time and information, I may eventually have memoirs.

Seventh Grade
My seventh grade classes were split into four classrooms by grade point achievement from primary school: 7A, 7B, 7C and 7D. I was in 7D (yeah: I was with the smart kids). I sat behind Kimberly Chiera (we were seated in alphabetical order); I don’t recall who sat behind me. A few years ago, I spotted Kimberly on Classmates.com (I have a gold membership there for some reason). The 7D homeroom was on the main floor of the building; most of my classes were in the basement.

In 1970, my seventh grade classes were:

  • Citizen Education
  • Math (pre-Algebra)
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Art / Metal Shop
  • PE

My seventh grade report card shows okay grades with an overall average of 86. You’ll also see several ‘U’ references in the effort column (that would be for “unsatisfactory”). By then, I didn’t care for school. Some random thoughts:

  • I wore a pair of black socks to my first PE class, having forgotten my white pair. This created a specter that haunted me for the 2-1/2 years I went to this school.
  • I was articulate and soft-spoken, which fueled these flames (except with the teachers, of course).
  • I was shy during this period of time (still am)
  • I preferred Metal Shop to Art (there was a requirement for both that year). My art performance is forgettable, but I made a horrible ashtray (both my parents smoked at the time) and a hideous lamp base on the lathe in Metal Shop.

Eighth Grade:
My eighth grade class was also split into four classrooms; I was in 8D. I don’t recall if we sat in alphabetical order or not.

In 1971, my Eighth Grade classes were:

  • Social Studies
  • English
  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Art
  • Math (3rd)

Note the two Math classes on my eighth grade report card. At the time, New York State had a Regents Exam for Math, English, Social Studies and Science. The exam is a state-administered proficiency test for grades 9 through 12 and was offered at the end of each semester. For me, the exam represented the means to get rid of my math requirements for the year simply by taking a test.

My math teacher (whose name I forget) introduced me to the ninth grade math teacher, John Tarmey. Mr. Tarmey gave me permission (and then wrangled with the school office) to sit for the Ninth Grade Regents Exam for Mathematics (Algebra) at the end of my Eighth Grade year; the “Math 3rd Period” (lower right) was his Algebra class (I dropped Art to do this). That grade is interesting: I didn’t do well in the class, but passed the exam with a score of 90, which became my grade.

I had an overall average of 79, before the Regents grade. With the Regents grade, my average was 81. Oh yeah: several ‘U’ references .. I still didn’t care for school. Some random thoughts:

  • My science teacher and I shared a common interest in psychic abilities. Sadly, I didn’t test well (save for in my own mind .. pun intended).
  • I ducked out of a number of Language Arts classes to help in the school bookstore. I didn’t care for my teacher (Mr. Noonan), and the feelings were quite mutual. He was the son of a local dentist; my father thought very highly of him .. I’d lose any arguments where he was involved.
  • I read “Romeo and Juliet” that year, after seeing “West Side Story”. I followed with “The Merchant of Venice”. I try to go to Bard on the Beach in Vancouver BC as often as I can.
  • I played the clarinet for a very brief time during these two years, but do not remember any other details.

More to come in the High School Years post.

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About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

One Response to The Middle School Years

  1. Pingback: Artifacts of a Life « OpsanBlog

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