I went to a high school that actually had an auditorium large enough to seat the whole school. It is a rarity today but I fine addition to any school. I have some memories about the auditorium in my high school that illustrate how things are different now and yet to a certain extent the same as they were 50 years ago
For a couple of years they pulled us together in the auditorium in an attempt to temper the bad driving habits at our high school which given the safety features of the cars and the age of the cars most of us were driving was a true safety issue. A local plastic surgeon would come in and show us a slide show of accident scenes and the results of those accidents . Some students left crying some became ill but most sat in the type of deathly silence you hear today when an athlete lies motionless on the floor of an arena. It was a deathly silence, a silence rarely heard, even then, from a group of high school students. This horrific show would never happen today for various reasons. I guess either the schools didn’t know their kids then or perhaps our perception is that kids are a lot weaker or less capable of understanding the results of their actions now. something I doubt. Rear view mirrors embedded in heads, scarred faces, a truly gruesome reality horror show. One picture in particular I will never forget was the body of a little kid in a superman outfit that had been hit and nearly cut in half on Halloween. Their injuries all described in chilling clinical detail by the unemotional voice of the doctor who prepared the slide show. The effects on driving around the school usually lasted for two or three days and then driving returned to normal, which was fast and reckless. Seat belts hadn’t gained any traction in the early 60’s. and neither did the rear wheel drive cars we drove, even with 10 or so kids in them often making for noisy and smoky exits from almost all parking lots. I am sure that any school attempting such a mayhem based reality show today would have its entire administration summarily fired and yet we all survived and it is one of the few things about high school I remember absolutely clearly.
This was the same auditorium where in a truly surly display of intentional humiliation the school administration gathered each class together at midterm and delivered down slips in front of the whole class. Teachers wandering from row to row calling names loudly and handing out down slips somewhat appropriately titled form 13’s. Some students praying as the teachers walked by that they didn’t get one others trying to set a new school record.
It was also the site of one of the greatest harmless pranks ever done in a school. Students dropping several thousand or so glass marbles in several different places on the floor during a study hall in the old-fashioned high ceilinged, echo enhanced, cavernous 2500 seat school auditorium. The sound they made as they rolled down the sloping auditorium floor bouncing off the metal chair stanchions and hitting the front of the stage was truly amazing. Like a hail storm it started as a low rumble of rolling marbles followed by a continuous ongoing racket for a few minutes as the marbles hit the front of the stage then every once in a while like the last hail stones in a storm the sound was followed by a stray marble previously trapped somewhere rolling down the floor in the complete silence of a complicity shrouded auditorium. Quiet settled like a wet blanket over the students in the study hall as the angry but befuddled study hall teacher ‘s eyes darted here and there trying to locate the culprit as marbles noisily pooled around her feet. The students were quiet for a reason; As a teacher today I would have tried to look angry but probably would have ended up smiling and would stay that way if the students agreed to clean up their mess. Forty years ago the results of non-conforming actions usually received maximum penalties.
The marble drop penalty would have been based on disruption and disrespect and might have ranged up to expulsion and would certainly involve a least a suspension. Would those standards if applied today be good or bad for education?