Here is the attendance policy for my high school:
During any given quarter, a student may accrue up to five absences from any class before he/she will earn an administrative failure for that quarter.
a. Three tardies will be counted as equal to one absence.
b. Being more than 20 minutes late to class will be counted as equal to one absence.
Here is a fun fact about this policy:
It didn't go into effect until the year after I graduated.
Thanks to this fact, I didn't go to school much my senior year. I didn't like math or science, I had a ton of study periods throughout the day, and my first period French class was way too early for me to care about. What I did love though was my last class of the day. Senior Humanities Seminar was new for my senior year, and it was a two-period class that encompassed history and English, was taught by two teachers, and was fantastic. I nearly dropped it after the first day, because I hadn't done the summer reading, but the teachers gave me a chance:
"If we promise that not doing the summer reading will not cause you to fail, will you stay?"
Well, when put that way in front of my entire class, I couldn't very well leave. They might as well have said "If we promise you that we will kill this baby if you leave, will you stay?" So I stayed, and it was one of the best academic decisions I ever made. The class was very small, and it had a very intimate feel to it. The structure was very open, and heated discussion was not only allowed but encouraged. We had a lot of serious debate, but we also laughed a lot. We read and we read and we read, and we wrote and we wrote and we wrote. It was the class where I first read Hesse, and Kafka, and Tolstoy. Oh, sweet Tolstoy.
We read War and Peace as a class over the period of a month or two. I loved every sentence, but even still, I found it to be a bit much when added to the rest of my workload. (You know, the pile of uncompleted assignments that I wasn't working on because I preferred playing Final Fantasy IX.) The teachers were not oblivious to the fact that we were busy seniors - they knew that we all had our plates full, and so they decided to reward us for our efforts. It was announced that, at the end of our harrowing Russian literature experience, we would be granted a pizza party. A War and Pizza party.
It was simple. Basically, once the book was done, the teachers would somehow find a way to order pizza into the building. (We should have had it delivered. The class was just inside the back door of the school, that's what we should have done.) Each of us was responsible for bringing an extra dish, and we would spend the last two periods of the day eating and talking about battles and love and catty Russian women. What could be better?
The day crept ever closer, and all we could think about was how fun War and Pizza would be. I signed up to bring something simple - maybe cookies? - because I knew I couldn't be trusted to bring anything more substantial. Finally, the day arrived, and miraculously I was in school in the morning. A friend from Seminar saw me in the hall after first period and asked me if I was ready for the party. I smiled and said that I couldn't wait, but I think you know that of course I wasn't ready. I hadn't brought cookies to school, I'm never prepared for anything. So I did what I was good at. I forged a note with my mother's name that said I had a dentist appointment, and I brought it to the principal's office after second period. Protocol stated that I should have given the note to my homeroom teacher, and at that point I would have been given an early dismissal pass. However, high school students are forgetful, so the secretary gave me a pass to leave at the beginning of fourth period, and I was on my way.
I went to my third period class and instead of paying attention to my lazy-eyed chemistry teacher, I thought about how I didn't want to leave school alone. That would have been boring. Then I remembered that my sister had fourth period lunch, and I decided that I was going to make her come out with me. Jenny was not the type to skip classes, so when I walked into the cafeteria and presented her with her counterfeit note, I could suddenly smell fear on her. I explained that I would go to get the car while she took the note I had given her to the principal's office. She disagreed and insisted that if she was going to do it, I was going to have to go with her. So we walked back to the office where I had already told the secretary my "oops I forgot to give you this" story, and I told it again, but this time for my sister. For some reason, I thought it would be entirely believable that we would both have forgotten to hand over our notes on the very same day. The secretary eyed us up and down and said, "You girls aren't trying to skip class, are you?" I could hear Jenny behind me, fighting an audible whimper, so I loudly replied "What! No we're just forgetful it is hilarious!" No, that is not hilarious, I am terrible at lying. Miraculously though, she wrote Jenny's pass and sent us away with a bit of an evil eye, but I didn't care. We were free!
We walked to my car and Jenny didn't say a word. I tried to get her to admit that she was having a good time, but I think she was fighting off the urge to cry or vomit or physically abuse me. I tried to explain to her that she was only skipping lunch, but still that didn't seem to make her feel better. By the time we got to the supermarket, she was ready to have American-Gladiator-style pugil stick fights with me, throwing me to my metaphorical death (or slight discomfort) on the metaphorical padded mats metaphorically below. (This is a metaphor. There were no pugil sticks or mats or deaths.)
I went into the store, and while I felt bad that Jenny was upset, I felt great about the fact that I was not in math class. Math was bullshit, cookies were delicious, and sometimes you had to make your sister leave school without permission. In my eyes, it was the way of the world. So I paid for my tasty treats, I went back to the car, and I took my sister back to school. I had her back before her lunch even ended, and I sent her on her way. She walked down the hall to her next class, head down, defeated. I had destroyed her sense of moral fiber, her personal sense of righteousness. I had ruined her in the course of forty minutes.
Thankfully the cookies were delicious.