The Franklin School Honor Society: 1968

The names I remember:
Patti Pannone, Glenn Clark, Donna Lehner, Jeff Traficante, Gloria Dellapi, Bobby Kiwor, Debbie Glascow, Ted something , Walter Sudol
Barry Prystowski, ?,?, Vickie LePree, ?, ?, Debbie D'Allesandro,?, Barbara Boudreaux, ?, Christine Smith, Joesph something
Kevin Keaton, ?, Peggy Alden, Gail Folena, ?, ?, Peggy Lelinho, ?, Carol Oyer, Debbie Thaler, Ray Masonsen
Dave Emmerling, Fred Lane, Susan Landino, ?, Debbie Conway, Amy Hoffman, Barbara Jaworski, Gail Bellows, Susan Riddle, Cheryl Zabriskie , Richard Gesualdo, me

The maudlin memories of Franklin School. Never since have I felt so remote from my peers; I have spent most of my life wondering why people are as they are, but Franklin School was two years of utter and complete bafflement. I had arrived in Nutley at the end of fifth grade, and did not adjust well to my new school or home. Sixth grade was dreadful, and I'm sure Miss Anello thought I had little potential. Over the summer we moved to a new house, so I was in a new neighborhood and ready to start a new school. Everyone there, soon to be eighth-graders, did their best to terrify me "Just hope you don't get Miss Fujinaka! You can't understand her, and she's mean!" I got Miss Fujinaka, worried for a day or two, but found that I liked her. A lot. I should have realized what that meant! The rest of my classes ridiculously easy. I remember telling my dad that the hardest part of junior high was remembering where I sat in each class.

So the first marking period was over (yep, that's what they called them--quarters everywhere else on the planet, but Nutley certainly marches to its own beat) and I had straight A's. This did not seem like much of an achievement, as so little was asked, but at the awards presentation, my name was called first "James Clark; All A's" and the room with 1000 people in it fell silent. I went up on stage, got my certificate, and felt humiliated. The eighth grade neighbors made it quite clear that "All A's" was not what people did. Acceptance required lower grades. I wanted to be accepted.

So for the next two years, I tried various strategies to fit in, all the while feeling like a member of a different species. I bought clothes that were not me, went to the soda shop after school with the guys, and listened to conversations I did not understand, becoming more and more discouraged. Until I just gave up. But that took a few more years, until I realized what that world offered was not anything I wanted.

I wonder how these people are doing today. Some have thrived, some not. And of course thrive is a tricky word....I certainly am thriving in the ways I want; it's just that, yet again, those ways do not coincide with the ways of the world around me.

Know a name? Want to share? Contact me at tdiguy at everestkc dot net. Thanks!
Walter Sudol wins a prize for the first amendations, though I need not say which he remembered and which I did.

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