August 15, 2020
I wake up to the Kansas State Anthem, Home on the Range, playing through my alarm clock, excited for the first day of school. I slip my Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, SmartBoard Mini and iPad into my backpack and snag a sack lunch from my mom. The school lunch entitlement was cut over the summer, as the Kansas fiscal year was a little below expected.
I told my Uber to pick me up early today. Ubering to school is expensive, but it’s the only option now, since the bus program was cut and the PV police department expanded into all three parking lots. My driver pulls into East alongside the dozens of Ubers. He looks longingly at the school he once taught at, but quickly refocuses as he reminds himself that he is helping to stimulate Kansas economy. As I get out of the car, I wave to my old science teacher, and am comforted that so many teachers were employed by the economy-stimulating Uber after the Great Kansas Repair.
The school security line is long today. When I get to the SRO, I show him my ID, scan my handprint and walk through the metal detector.
“3001984”, step out of line!” said an officer, who then proceeds to pat me down.
I had left a sharpened pencil in my backpack, stupidly endangering the student body. Ashamed, I walk to first period hearing the squeak of the security cameras turn and follow me as I walk down the hall. What a way to start off the new year.
I grab a seat in Auditorium 7, alongside the other 984 students in my first period. Our teacher directs us to line up and turn in our summer homework into the iScantron. The district bought these over the summer to help take the grading load off of the 9 teachers left at East (rumor has it that they can even put realistic teacher comments on papers.)
We began the class the same way we have for the past four years, by singing the Kansas State Anthem. Because the choir program was finally cut, we all sing in a beautiful monotone, harmonizing with the iScantron hums, churning out our papers.
Principal Governor Brownback’s voice enters the room through the speakers, ushering us to our next class. As we file out, I stick a dollar into the teacher’s tip jar and slide quarters into the Scantron 3000 to get my summer assignments back. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I got a 72 percent.
The district has granted us with an improvement to our math classes this year, which are taught entirely by ScantronMath computer systems. Yet, second period is getting off to a slow start, as the computer can’t get AirPlay to work, and short circuited. While the IT staff is busy tending to the system, I put on the hall pass shock collar and go to the restroom.
As I walk down the hall, I notice there are a couple new associate principals this year, each one posted next to each EXIT sign. I swear I can feel my shock collar electrify me a bit as I make eye contact.
I walk into the restroom and find my sack lunch I had left on the sink last spring. Because the custodial staff is down to one janitor, I felt I could help out, and placed the lunch in the trash next to a rat’s nest.
My fellow juniors and I leave fifth period and head to the lunchroom. I’m tempted to join my senior friends for a lunch in the courtyard, but I remind myself that I have not yet deserved the privilege of fresh air.
A boy at the front of the lunchroom grabs a microphone to announce that the Student Store was just purchased by AppleWear.
“We have all your iLancer gear!” he said. “Come stimulate Kansas’ economy and look good doing it!”
My friends and I laugh and switch our attention to the drones dropping off Chipotle in the courtyard for the seniors. We watch and admire how they contribute to Kansas’ economy.
I’m glad the Pep Club got cut. This way, Principal Governor Brownback can begin his speech at the assembly right away. I mean, it’s not like Pep Club had any clubs left to inform the student body about. I heard that one year, the year that began the Great Kansas Repair, students were encouraged to throw crumpled paper balls in a trash can at a pep assembly, as a game. Maybe if they hadn’t thrown away that paper, the 2014 Kansas fiscal year crisis could’ve been avoided…
But Brownback’s speech reaffirms that things are better than ever.
When the 2014 fiscal year crisis occurred, I saw that you, the students, were our saviors. And I was right — because of your school’s money, Kansas is now the most profitable state in the country. The minimal budget education system we run here brings in millions of dollars each year from education cuts. In return, we provide you with the newest technology and security.
As we pass around the collection cup, the iHologram of Brownback flickers and loses connection. But the student body understands the main idea: the Brownback giveth, and the Brownback taketh.
East is lucky to have reserved the North stadium tonight, as it is one of the last stadiums still maintenanced in the state. East kids flood into the bleachers, eager to hash it out against their biggest rivalry, South. We all sing the Kansas State Anthem, and it begins.
Of course, the football program was cut after the 2015 State rings cost too much, so all that is left to do is chant at the other student section. As usual, East gloats its superiority.
L-A-N, C-E-R-S, WE CONTRIBUTE, THE BEST
An Uber driver picks me up after an obvious East victory. I tell him I am applying for Uber, and he seems confused.
“How are you going to be a student and an Uber driver?”
I tell him simply that the school year ends next week. He seems confused.
“Even with cuts to clubs, teachers and learning environments…?” he asked.
I explain that the cost of the district’s heightened technology and security completely depletes Kansas’ yearly education budget within a week.
August 16, 2020
I wake up to the Kansas State Anthem playing through my alarm clock.