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Thruston Elementary School Reunion

Thruston Elementary School

Calling all Thruston Tomcats!  Calling all Thruston Tomcats!  If you attended Thruston Elementary, worked there, or taught there, I have exciting news for you!  We are ALL invited to a special THRUSTON SCHOOL REUNION, from 2 to 4pm, Sunday, May 15th at Yellow Creek Park!  You are asked to stop by and share some of your memories of the school and what life was like as a student there!  It’s funny.  I remember my very first day of kindergarten and screaming bloody murder because I didn’t want to get out of my mother’s Maverick!  I think they literally had to drag me inside . . . and, now, I’m certainly glad they did.  My memories of Thruston school are special and, yes, HILARIOUS!

If you went to Thruston Elementary, you may be able to relate to some of these memories.  Some, I’m afraid, are just personal to me.  Of course, after reading them . . . you may be grateful that they’re just personal to me.  Like the fact that when I was in 4th grade at Thruston I went to the restroom behind my teacher’s desk.  Now, I will not name that particular teacher, but, one morning, I started asking to go to the restroom around 9am and at 1pm, I still hadn’t been allowed to go.  Needless to say, I just improvised and made due.  I will never forget my dear friend Kelly Johnson noticing what I was doing and screaming to the class, ‘Oh my god!  He’s peeing!!!”  Thank you, Kelly.  I was trying to be as subtle as possible in this rather delicate situation.  I would rather you had not drawn the attention of the entire class to my crotch.  Again . . . thank you, Kelly.  Best friends forever. 

Not all my memories are that scandalous . . . though I do cherish the memories of the lice checks we used to have.  Seriously!  I am not kidding.  One of the teachers . . . and I think it was usually the kindergarten teacher Pat Jones (Yep!  The same one that had to drag me out of the Maverick) . . . would come into the classroom with a Number Two lead pencil that she would rake through our scalps.  Oddly enough, it always tickled a bit and felt strangely stimulating.  That is, until, she handed you a sealed, white envelope.  Now, I, thankfully, never got one of those dreaded letters of doom, but I sat next to a couple of kids who did.  Yes!  We had you figured out, Pat Jones!  The sealed, white envelope meant your scalp needed a Karen Silkwood shower because you were infected with gnits!!  And the detail that killed us all . . . after finding lice in one kid’s head, they would take the same pencil and use it to see if WE had lice.  I don’t think our teachers were ever aware of the fact that we literally thought they were trying to infect us all!!

Now, I must clarify that our teachers only had our best interest at heart.  (I’m pretty sure that’s why my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Valdez, scolded my girlfriend at the time (Jennifer Gilmore) and I, for holding hands on the way to the bus.  Mrs. Valdez thought we were a little too close and “inappropriate.”  Apparently, Jennifer and I were on the path to Jersey Shore and Mrs. Valdez wanted to snap us back to Thruston right quick!)  And how’s this for best interest??  One of my favorite Thruston School rituals involved me and my fellow students lining both sides of the hallway and being forced to gargle flouride.  While I appreciated the attention to dental hygiene, I always found it a little strange that we were encouraged to stand in the hallway and spit into a cup . . . in unison.  They literally timed us.  Not kidding.  There was a stopwatch involved.  WTH???

And who could forget our wonderful principal, Aubrey Pendley (who will be at the reunion Sunday!!)?  Mr. Pendley fell in love with Debbie Boone’s song “You Light Up My Life!”  And, every morning, like clockwork, we lit up his.  Yes!  We had to sing “You Light Up My Life” EVERY morning.  I’m pretty certain that’s why, for my first MIDDLE school arts and crafts project, I sewd a Debbie Boone voodoo doll.

Now granted, the man had some very suspect musical tastes, but Mr. Pendley was amazing.  Every kid in that school (and I think every faculty member too) ADORED that man.  I still remember, quite vividly, going down to his office and asking for a special meeting.  I told his receptionist at the time, Judy Tyler, that I needed to speak with Mr. Pendley about skipping a grade.  See, I was in 3rd grade and INCREDIBLY bored.  I just didn’t feel challenged enough and I had convinced myself that I was ready to just go ahead and move onto 4th grade.  Mrs. Tyler told Mr. Pendley why I was there, he invited me into his office, and he let me plead my case.  I remember him listening to every word that I said.  Now, I was a ridiculous child and my request was absurd.  My imagination was as active then as is now (only then we didn’t call it “ADHD!”).  But Mr. Pendley never made me feel ridiculous or absurd.  He truly LISTENED to me and that memory has been with me ever since.  Of course, I had to stay in 3rd grade in Mrs. Hayden’s class, where I was subjected to a transfer student named Frankie, who used to tell us all he was going to the restroom to make our lemonade for lunch!  YUCK!!!!  I’m not sure whatever happened to this Frankie . . . but I’m guessing federal prison!  But that’s neither here nor there . . . Mr. Pendley made me stay in 3rd grade because he knew that’s what was best for me.

And, speaking of 3rd grade . . . that time span marked the arrival of my greatest elementary school rival, Derek Jennings!  See, in elementary school, I was quite the ladies’ man.  In fact, I had a devoted harem who would hang out with me during recess.  We would sit atop this weird Lincoln Log looking playground thing and look down upon the other villagers.   I like to think I was a handsome, charming boy who just couldn’t settle down with one girl.  I insisted on sampling the different flavors East Daviess County had to offer.  That is until DEREK CAME TO THRUSTON!!!!  Cue the soundtrack of Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street!   Derek was blonde and all the girls loved his blonde hair.  (Insert gagging and reflux noises!)  And, members of my harem started to jump ship and pledge their undying love to that little twerp, Mr. Jennings, instead of me.  I remember standing in the lunch line one day next to a gal named Angela Foster.  Derek walked by, looking blonde and yucky!  I glared at him and said, “I hate him!”  Then I turned to my right and asked, “What do you think, Angela?”  Angela, not realizing that she REALLY needed to have my back in that moment, said, “Everyone’s nice in my book!”  Even witty at the age of 7, I said, “Well, your book stinks!”

When I heard about the Thruston School Reunion, I was pumped!  Everytime I drive down Hwy 144 now, I always glance over and think how sad it is that the school is gone.  Though the bricks may not be there, the spirit of that school lives in everyone of us who attended.  I have so many memories of that place and I can’t wait to get the chance to relive some of them on Sunday.

I think about our Thruston Elementary School Fall Festivals and how much fun the Cherry Tree was!  Or the Disco in Mr. Melheiser’s music room!  Or that witch in the haunted house who looked a little bit like Mrs. Taylor!  Could it be?  No!  No way!  I think of our librarian, Mrs. Nation, and how much fun reading was when we were with her.   I still remember a book she read us called “The Box-Car Children” and how awesome it sounded to become an oprhan and be forced to live in an abandoned train car.  I think everyone of us would have sold our parents down the river to get the chance to live THAT story!  That’s a testament to the life Mrs. Nation gave it. I think about Mrs. Dawson allowing me to randomly stand up in class and read original stories aloud that I had written.  I don’t remember other kids getting to do that.  I just remember her having the hunch that I needed to do it.   I remember sitting in Mrs. Hassan’s 2nd grade class as tornado sirens blared and horrifying clouds barreled toward our big old windows.  I remember her calmly standing and ushering us into the hallways toward safety.  And, last but not least, I remember our custodian, Glenn Pierce, who had an uncanny knack for art and an equally uncanny knack for remembering every single name and face! 

I loved Thruston School.  And even my unpleasant memories . . . like our 1st grade teacher Mrs. Sholar making us at least TRY that wretched pink rice and spinach (WTH was that menu all about?  Jamie Oliver would be horrified!)  . . . are wonderful memories now.  I have a feeling that, if you went to Thruston, your memories are just as vivid and rich.  If so, join us at Yellow Creek Park from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, May 15th!   (If it rains Sunday, the reunion will be held at Yellow Creek Baptist Church.)  It will be a great time to share those memories about a wonderful school that helped shape everyone who ever walked through its doors.  I may be 39-years-old, but I am still a PROUD Thruston Tomcat!

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