Most of O.A.C (which was essentially grade 13 in Ontario before they scrapped it) was a breeze and I didn’t overly assert my intellect even at the best of times. One needed 6 O.A.C. credits to get in to University – and that was basically the only 6 results they looked at; the average of these 6 results pretty much defined your tertiary schooling aspirations. I had already done 3 of these credits the year before, which meant I had only 3 to complete in an 8 subject timetable over 2 semesters. Needless to say, I had a lot of free time which was spent mostly in the coffee shop down the street smoking my brains out (ah, the good old days when smoking was allowed in coffee shops) or in the months where the weather was agreeable, we spent hours across the high school in the soccer field brewing bottle tokes and listening to someone playing guitar; not exactly the stressful year of a senior that I expected it to be when I was younger – not that I was complaining.
When I was done, I knew it was awesome.
I was so proud of it that I even got some of my friends to read it – I don’t think any of us read any of each others’ work – we usually didn’t give a shit, but I knew this piece rocked and I wanted to show it off. I estimated that it was at least at a 2nd year University level, if not higher.
I should also mention that since I was a passionate teenager, I had extreme hot and cold relationships with many of my teachers; I LOVED a lot of them and HATED others and most of the time the feelings were mutual. About a week had passed since I handed it in and my teacher asked to see me after class. I approached her desk, which always was buried underneath piles of books and the particular pile closest to her caught my eye because they looked familiar. Rightly so! It was the entire collection of books that I had mentioned in my bibliography. What the hell was going on?
“Stephanie, I can’t seem to find any proof of plagiarism but I cannot, with my conscious, award you the grade that this essay is worthy of; I just cannot believe that you wrote this essay on your own.”
I was stunned and utterly insulted. It wasn’t as if I was a D student that suddenly pulled a diamond out of my ass – I was an A student – low A’s, but still A’s nevertheless. I don’t know what came over me, but for the first and only time in my high school career, I swore at a teacher,
“Are you fucking serious? So what you’re really saying is that I’m not smart enough to have written this essay?!”
Up until that moment, this teacher was probably one of my favourite teachers – I had had her in grade 9 English as well. She was mild mannered, kind and easily approachable – until that day, anyway. Lucky for me, she let my potty mouth slide. I flustered her; it was not like it was my normal behaviour. She essentially replied,
“I don’t want to put it that way, exactly, but I’m sorry to say that I just cannot shake this feeling – so I’ll be taking off 15% from the original mark I gave it – it’s the best I can do.”
Well... I guess that meant I got a 100% because my final mark was 85%. See, I knew it was awesome! So, yes, I still got an A, but that really wasn’t the point. I was still hurt, annoyed and insulted that my teacher had appeared to have spent hours sifting through a dozen books to try and prove that I was a cheater. It was gross – and I had no choice but to strike her from my “Teachers I Loved” list and swap her over to my other list.