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When a strict teacher confronts Ryan, a special day takes a turn for the worse

I walked into the gymnasium and saw the face of Ms. Himmel, the one teacher I never wanted to see there on that special day.

She was one of two teachers always patrolling our classroom. She was strict toward everyone except my friend Jim. She was always kind to him. The only times she ever showed anyone else a hint of kindness was in the parent-teacher conferences. I thought that she was possibly trying to make the parents feel like she was a kind teacher when in truth she was not.

Ms. Himmel had sent me to the principal’s office twice before the special day. I had always been scared of going to the office, and I never wanted it to happen to me again. The first time, it was because I had accidentally broken the tip of a pencil. Ms. Himmel had taken me to the principal and said, “And here is the tip of the pencil, violently broken,” showing the principal a pencil tip smaller than a pin. I had felt very frightened, and I had been crying. Ms. Himmel’s face had twitched, and that was something you never wanted to see. It meant she was really angry.

On the special day, my friends and I walked to school with big smiles on our faces, singing, laughing, and bumping each other’s arms.

“I can’t wait to see the aquarium!” I said. “When we walk into the gym, open your eyes to the sea of greatness.”

Indeed, the whole class was excited. This was not a normal day. We were going to have a fun event that the second-graders have every year: we were going to present a panorama of New York City. We had worked for two months on this project, and it was finally here.

Taming the Sun

We all went to the gym, where it all took place. It was a spacious room, with beige walls and a light wood floor with the school’s logo in the middle. There were also sports jerseys of famous people framed on the wall.

It was foggy with the breath of over a hundred second-graders, and it was hard to see. For the first time, there was not a single bouncing ball in sight. All I could hear was the sound of my own heart thumping.

The whole class gathered inside the gym to look at the finished product. There were aquariums,

parks, basketball courts, four bridges, and so much more. My friends and I were walking around the gym, admiring our work and looking at other people’s work. I remember the feeling of pride as I gazed at the sea of buildings in the gym.

I was proud of what I had built. I had made a hotel that I named the Sunshine Hotel, which I was hoping to find in real life one day. I made a backyard court with a basketball hoop. I had also put solar panels on the buildings because I love the environment. I vaguely remember recreating the Empire State Building as well. I worked alone, but it was fun work. I remember my friend saying, “Wow, we put so much hard work into this, and now it’s a reality.”

There were boats in this project, and these boats were each a single Lego piece. I thought these looked really cool under the bridge. I picked one up and examined it closely. I thought it looked nice in my hands. I moved it to a different part of the panorama. Ms. Himmel saw this. She called me over.

Beads of sweat were dripping from my face as Ms. Himmel said, “Go sit on that bench, facing the wall.”

My hands were somewhat trembling because she had a history of punishing me even if I had done nothing. She told me that what I’d done was wrong and that I would again be sent to the principal’s office. I stood there in complete disbelief, but I should not have been surprised in the slightest. Beads of sweat were dripping from my face as Ms. Himmel said, “Go sit on that bench, facing the wall.”

“Why do I have to do that?”

She replied with a simple “Because I said so.”

“Alright,” I said, and sat on one of the benches, facing the wall, as she said.

I saw Ms. Himmel, with her long brown hair and sturdy body, standing in front of me. Her oval head made her look like a pear. A very mad pear. She looked like someone who had had a really bad day. Her eyes looked red, like fire, as usual. I was worried about what was to come next.

My emotions were swirling in my head. I heard myself worrying what would happen when my parents found out. I was crushed.

Ms. Himmel had that twitching face, and I knew I was in trouble. I felt as if the pencil was a symbol of what was going to happen now. Some of my classmates could see a hint of anger and dismay on my face as I sat facing the wall. All eyes were on me as I shed a tiny tear.

After the period ended, I was ready for my fate. I went to my classroom. But surprisingly, Ms. Himmel never came up to me. Instead, she continued the day as usual. I wondered if she had forgotten, or maybe she didn’t care anymore. I didn’t know if she was going to call home, and I was worried for the rest of the school day. I wondered to myself if I would be in big trouble. I went home, but nothing happened.

The day suddenly seemed to have been made brighter as sunlight entered the house.

I spoke to my mom, saying “I almost got sent to the principal’s office for something little again.” She and I had a long talk, and she realized it was nothing big at all.

When I was in my room, I gazed out at the sun through my window and said, “That was a really good day.”

Ryan Behr
Ryan Behr, 11
New York, NY

Anushka Trivedi
Anushka Trivedi, 11
Silver Spring, MD