Circles Are Exciting!!!

They had us under thumbscrews.

Through February and March 1977, schoolwork was brutal. I’d forgotten how much that was our “day job.” School. Work.

That winter, my classes were: Art (Mr. Lage), Chemistry (Mr. Schroeder), Speech (Mr. Gulbranson, who we called “Mr. G”), Western Civilization (Mrs. Atkinson), Creative Writing (or “Creative Bullshitting,” as my friend Mike Elyea put it, with Mr. Eide), German I (Mrs. Ferguson, aka “Fergie”), Far East (Mr. King), and Geometry (Mr. Buerkle). Lage was a hoot, always coming up with cryptic sayings about art, like, “Sculpture has inner strength,” even though his main background was in Phy Ed. We called Mrs. Atkinson “Yakky” since her first name was Jackie and she rambled a lot in class.

The funniest epithet for our classes came with the two guys who taught Government. You either had one or the other, Mr. Gimmestad or Mr. Gove. At the beginning of the school year you were likely asked: “You got Gimmerment or Goverment?”

Seems a lot of teachers did double-duty, and none more so than the assistant football coach, Lyle Buerkle. Mr. Buerkle was a fairly jovial guy, with a winking, gum-chewing insouciance that made him likeable as a teacher. We’d drag our sorry asses into his Geometry class to be greeted by an all-caps message on the blackboard: “CIRCLES ARE EXCITING!!!”

The 1977 diary brought back a lot of terms I’d completely forgotten, “Day A, which meant no Painting, although I could come in and work on it.” Or, “D.S. your time!”—a reminder that class was canceled for the day and students were to “direct-study” their time by doing homework in one of the resource centers or library. We usually skipped off to the Music Resource Center (MRC) where we messed around with instruments and shot the bull with friends (photo, below right, of an irreverent Joe Barker in the MRC, 1977).

Mound Westonka High School was on the modular scheduling plan in the 1970s, which was great because, depending on your scheduled mods (Day A, B, etc.), you had some variety to your week. But still, I don’t recall a lot of engaged minds thrashing over great ideas during my high school years.

I was a dismal student—mediocre at best—but excelled at English and Art. My worst courses were in math and science. In Schroeder’s Chemistry class, John McDaniel, a lanky guy who perpetually slouched in his desk chair, always traded confused looks with me when the teacher made what struck us as an incomprehensible statement. A stoned splutter would come from McDaniel and he’d throw up his hands in surrender. I’d forgotten that until I came across it in a March 1977 entry.

School was a mixed bag, and generally the place we went to hang out with our friends. Education was a side dish. The March 23 entry pretty much summed it up: “In Painting, wasted time. Geometry had me in circles. Ha. I’m not smiling. More finals in Speech. Got an A on a writing assignment that was handed back today in Creative Writing. Far East and Chemistry had me clock-watching.”

There we were, entirely unaware we were being groomed for the same bill of goods in the big, wide, post-college world.

~ by completelyinthedark on January 29, 2012.

3 Responses to “Circles Are Exciting!!!”

  1. WOW did this one bring back memories!

    I ran into Mr. Buerkle a few months ago. Or I should say, he ran into me. He knew me by name as soon as he saw me. He’s a great, great guy!

    I also remember having the hugest crush on Ms. Atkinson. She used to show up at my house a few times a year to look at the samples for the clothing lines my mom used to rep.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know, I think I saw Buerkle at Brian’s Class of ’80 reunion…were you there too? That’s when I ran into Sally Olsen again. Hrm.


  3. No. I missed that one. I was supposed to go out to Fletcher’s and meet a bunch of people but for some reason I couldn’t make it. I wish I could’ve because there are a bunch of people from that class I would’ve liked to see again.


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