Live EventSpittin Chiclets vs. Gen XYZ (The Dozen: Trivia Tournament pres. by High Noon Match 02)Starting Soon
The Dozen: Trivia Tournament - No. 8 Spittin' Chiclets vs. No. 9 Generation XYZWatch Tonight 7PM ET

It's Not a Crime to Like "Plus-Size" Girls and You Shouldn't Fight About It, Even In High School...

When I started as a Plumbing Instructor at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in 2005, I was told that if a fight broke out I wasn't allowed to break it up because I hadn't been trained and certified by the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). My boss said I could lose my job or worse, be sued if I put a hand on a kid. I had a friend who was a middle school teacher and he broke up a fight and was sued by the parents of one of the kids. It became a nightmare. He had to hire a lawyer and almost lost his job. I didn't want to get tangled up in that bullshit...

Classic girl fight...

I was given a heads-up that fights between guys ended quickly because neither kid really wanted to get hurt, but a fight between two girls was vicious and more difficult to break up, they went at it with the intention of causing bodily harm. They pull hair, scratch faces, and throw punches in bunches. My direct supervisor said if a fight broke out I should immediately dial 444 and not to touch anybody, help will arrive quickly.

We had two Deans and a Vocational Director whose job it was to oversee discipline. One of the Deans was a former star athlete at Brockton High School. He was just under 5 foot 8, jacked, and had a reputation for being a tough guy in Brockton and at the school. The other Dean was soft-spoken, 6 feet tall, slim, a track coach, and a former sprinter. No one outran him and it was fun to watch a kid think he/she could, but it never happened, he always caught the runners before they got very far. The Director was in his 50s, 6 foot 3, and about 260lbs, and although he wasn't much of a runner, his size and demeanor were enough to scare the kids. The three of them were a force to be reckoned with.

I was a little crazy in high school and a former bouncer during college, and my natural instinct when a fight broke out was to jump in. Now that I was a teacher I had to behave differently and I hoped that in the heat of the moment I wouldn't start throwing bodies around.  Due to school policy, I was limited to being a spectator...

When one of the plumbing instructors was out having back surgery, I took over his theory classes. There was a separate classroom in the rear of the shop where these classes were held. They didn't give me any direction and so I winged it, but I had the attention of my students and things were going well.

As I stood at the head of the class using the blackboard I turned around quickly and saw that a note was being passed between two students. It appeared harmless but when the classroom grew eerily quiet I knew something was up. One of the kids was a hothead. He was about 5 foot 8, ruggedly built, with short bleach blonde hair, pale skin, and no stranger to trouble. He had a reputation for being a little crazy... The other kid was about 5 foot 11 with a medium build and light brown skin. At parent-teacher conferences, his mother and father came in and said this year had been very different for their son, that he came home every day talking about the plumbing shop's bulletin board. They said it was the first time he was excited about going to school.

It was during the third week of school that the shop teacher told me I was in charge of the "bulletin board". I didn't think too much about it until I found out it was a school-wide competition. Every year each shop creates a bulletin board and the administration walks around during parent-teacher conferences and votes. The winning shop gets pizza and cake and of course, bragging rights. It had been a while since the plumbing shop won and I was tasked with pulling off a victory in my first year. I had to come up with a theme and get the board started right away...

Easy-Peasy connections…

Two weeks prior to the start of school I went in and worked on the new Environmental Technology Lab that was under construction. There were several plumbing students who worked at the school over the summer and they were working in the ET Lab with the shop teacher and the maintenance staff. When I started I was in charge of digging trenches for the underground drainage piping, the gas piping was already done. We used Enfield Electrofusion Acid Waste System. It's green plastic pipe and fittings that are resistant to acid waste and a lot easier to install than Pyrex (glass pipe) which the school had plenty of. We put the Electrofusion together using an Enfusion Control Unit that hooked up to terminals on the fittings and melted the pipe and fittings together. We had to pipe a separate 2" vent through the roof and put in a neutralizing sump just before the piping exited the building where it then emptied into an alarmed holding tank.

My first teaching moment came when I explained to one of the kids that facing the empty wheelbarrow in the direction you'd be pushing it when it was full was a lot easier than having to turn it when it was full, because if it tipped you'd have to start all over again. He laughed and said it had happened to him a couple of times. He immediately branded me a genius, of course I wasn't, but who was I to change his mind?

One of the first things I did after school started was to take kids over to the ET Lab to do the finish. There were nine lab tables with sinks and gas hookups for Bunsen Burners, and one larger table at the front for the teacher. My juniors and seniors did the work under my supervision and it came out great. We were all very proud.

I had a meeting with the seniors and juniors and asked them if creating an ET Lab-themed billboard would work for us. They all wanted to do it. We brainstormed and came up with some great ideas and I got volunteers for each part. Our billboard was located in the main building across from the plumbing shop, which was in a separate building by the football field. The oversized billboards were 4' x 8' and gave us plenty of area to work with.

We all worked diligently on the billboard and when it was done it was nothing short of incredible. We built a mock lab table with a gooseneck faucet and a gas nozzle, real cabinet doors that opened, with Enfield drainage piping, red and blue PEX water pipe, and the words "Plumbing Shop" at the top in 1/2" copper pipe and fittings the kids soldered and polished. We thought we were running away with it until Carpentry started theirs. They built a house with a foundation, walls, windows, doors, and a shingled roof. When the kids saw it they came back after lunch and said, "We just lost". We took a trip so I could see it and it was incredible, but I explained to my plumbers that carpenters build houses and we install pipes. Ours was just as good, maybe better…

The morning after parent-teacher conferences, during announcements, they read the results of the bulletin board contest…

It was declared a tie between Carpentry and Plumbing. Both shops received pizza and a cake. The plumbers and carpenters, once adversaries, complimented each other on a job well done, and both shops celebrated the outcome.

My students were all happy with their efforts and that's what the kid's parents were talking about at Parent-Teacher conferences. Their son had a great experience creating and completing the billboard, but just a week later, he was involved in a note-passing dispute with another student…

After several passes, the note went back to the taller kid who immediately stood up and went over to the bleach blonde kid and threw a haymaker. All the kids rose to their feet and I did what I was told, dialed 444, and reported the fight. The smaller kid with the bleach blond hair wasn't hurt and he got the taller kid in a bear hug. Meanwhile, another kid in the class was giving odds and taking bets. The entire class was shelling out cash and shouting hysterically, I could tell this was not their first rodeo. Once the bleach blonde kid had the other kid secured in a bear hug, he slammed him up against the concrete wall. I watched as the kid's body took the impact hard and before he had a chance to break loose, he was slammed up against the wall a second time, and this time he was dazed. Then the action moved to the floor where the bleach-blonde kid was having his way just before the Director and the two Deans came in and broke it up. They took the two combatants with them and I told everyone to get back in their seats. What a fucking morning!

Later I was called to the office to give a statement and the Director showed me the note they were passing. It said, "You Like Fat Chicks". That's what started the fight… Both kids received two-day out-of-school suspensions…

Are you kidding me? Plus-size models rock! (Ashley Graham)

Not long after that, there was another fight, this time in the mock-up area. There was a kid whose goal in life was to become a professional wrestler. He lived in Brockton with his grandmother and he was lifting weights and eating mini-meals every two hours. He got permission to eat during school because becoming a professional wrestler was a positive goal the school didn't want to prevent it. He started making sandwiches for himself every morning and realized he could make lots of sandwiches in a hurry and sell 'em for a buck each at the school. He sold PP&Js and tuna fish on plain white sandwich bread in small plastic baggies (pre-ziplock). We let him sell the sandwiches and he sold out quickly. He was pretty jacked and threw his weight around the shop and most kids were afraid of him. One day he got into it with a kid and picked him up and threw him through a 2" x 4" wall, knocking out several studs. The kid he threw was small but came from a tough family in Brockton known for their fighting skills. I thought the kid was out cold, but he got up and started throwing haymakers at the wrestler and they were landing solidly. He actually knocked the wrestler down and then continued whaling on him on the ground. 

"You're the fighter / You've got the fire / The spirit of a warrior, the champion's heart / You fight for your life / Because the fighter never quits / You make the most of the hand you're dealt / Because the quitter never wins"

I had already dialed 444 and the Deans and the Director showed up and broke up the fight. The two combatants were taken to the office. During lunch, I was called down to give a statement and I told them exactly what had happened and how proud I was of the smaller kid for putting a beating on the larger kid who was a bully. They agreed that the kid had done the right thing, standing up for himself, but they were both sent home for two days…

"When the fight was over nothing was solved, but nothing mattered…"

I knew these kids were decent kids, they just needed an outlet for their aggression. I spoke to the gym teacher and got permission to use the small gym after lunch when the class was normally in a silent study the last hour of the day. I took them over and we split into teams and played 3 on 3 half-court basketball, winner stays. I made sure the kids that fought were on the same teams. I figured they'd have a common goal and would have to learn to work together if they wanted to win… It worked.

Some of the other teachers heard about the kids playing basketball instead of being in silent study and complained about it, but no one could argue with the results. The kids started getting along and developing friendships that went beyond school and there weren't any fights in the plumbing shop the rest of the year. In fact, there was a lot of camaraderie and shop pride, something that had been lacking when I arrived.

"Seize the day!"

Looking back I can see how the fights led to the gym and that led to getting along. One of my favorite movies is "Dead Poets Society" and after watching John Keating get fired I always figured my own unorthodox teaching methods would lead to my demise as well…

It did get me in enough trouble at my last teaching job that I began telling my colleagues, "I wasn't a great kid in high school, but I'm spending a lot more time in the Principal's Office now that I'm a teacher"…  

In the comments tell me about some of the best fights you had/saw in high school…

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Vindog56

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vindog56/

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VindogUnleashed

Subscribe to my You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ2HaFQNpXLQpFvm4v9Vz9w