Being Debadged

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Slavery is permitted in High School.
It is called Sixth Form.

As a Sixth Form Slave you are required to stay after
school and set up chairs for P.T.A. meetings, clean
the auditorium, babysit underclassmen, do any and
everything that needs to be done, without pay.

All you get is a crummy plastic badge which notifies
all and sundry you are a Sixth Form Slave, available
for deployment.

You are to wear this badge with honour, despite the
word Perfect being spelled wrong.

To be a Prefect is considered a privilege. This goes to
show you the power of propaganda. Kids are supposed
to dream of the day they can perform unpaid manual
labour and wear that crummy plastic badge.

I entered servitude in September. I was not particularly
enamoured of the fact I had to get up at the crack of
dawn to reach school early where I could be tortured by
First Formers who seemed unable to grasp the principles
of lining up.

I was not thrilled to stay late whenever there was a
school function. And I especially wasn’t overjoyed
to have to attend school on a weekend for some project.

Getting to wear a crummy plastic badge with the word
Perfect spelled wrong didn’t seem fair compensation.

It was the Saturday before Christmas Break when the
Home Economics Teacher demanded that all Sixth Form
Slaves attend school, in uniform, to bake cookies for
an orphanage.

This was considered an ‘honour’, the definition of
what it meant to be a Prefect.

In the ancient days of which I write, there were
no blenders or mixers, it was all handwork.

As the smallest person in the class one would have
thought I’d be given the job of cookie cutting, not
batter stirring. But there I was, standing on a stool
with an enormous spoon that probably belonged to
Goliath, trying to stir cookie dough which had the
consistency of dried cement, recalcitrantly posed in
a vat so deep that if I had fallen in they’d have to
send for sniffer dogs.

I felt like a galley slave and quietly hummed cadence
as I pulled the spoon back and forth, imagining the
teacher cracking a whip.

I don’t know what demon possessed me to put my little
finger into the dough, but I did. Then conveyed it to
my mouth.

The Home Economic’s teacher let out a shriek. As eyes
turned to her, she made public service announcements
concerning my complete corruption in stealing cookies
meant for the poor orphans.

She went on and on, making me feel as if I’d swallowed
all fifteen pounds of dough, and through this act of
depravity, condemned pitiful orphans to starvation.

On top of her screaming, debasing, and otherwise
humiliating conduct, she topped it off by plucking
my Prefect badge from my uniform.

Decreeing that I was ‘unsound’ and could not hold
such high office as Prefect I was to leave the Home
Economics classroom immediately.

So, there I was, on a Saturday, released from my
duties, expected to suffer great anguish that I was
not in the hot and smelly Home Economics classroom
building my biceps trying to stir cookie dough, but
outside, free for the rest of the day.

As I walked home I tried to figure out why I didn’t
feel shame or hurt at being debadged. Why I felt
rather happy to get back most of my Saturday while
other Sixth Form Slaves would be baking cookies
until three o’clock.

I came to the conclusion that I was lazy.
Worse than lazy. I embraced sloth.
I was a slothful unsound sixth former.
I liked the way it sounded.
I tried to say it three times fast.
I was pretty good with tongue twisters.
If there ever was a position available as C.E.O. at
the Tongue Twister Factory I’m sure I’d be hired.

As I had been debadged, there was no reason for me to
attend school early save to fool my mother. I could
leave the house, dawdle as a slothful unsound sixth
former, meandering my way to the High School.

I didn’t have the responsibility of getting
underclassmen in two straight lines. I was
unsound and could not be entrusted with
such crucial responsibility.

I didn’t have to take attendance, one could not entrust
such a duty to an unsound slothful sixth former.

I was no longer permitted to clean up the kitchen after
lunch as this was a job requiring extreme soundness, and
I was certifiably unsound.

I didn’t see the punishment here, but assumed it was
because I was ‘unsound’.

When teachers asked why I wasn’t working I told them,
I’ve been debadged, ” with a glee that made them
question my soundness.

As my parents might murder me if they found out I was
debadged I never told them. It wasn’t until March they
learned the truth.

During my home trial I’d explained The Cookie Dough
Incident , but they didn’t believe me. They made many
aspersions as to my character and denigrated my lying

Before execution they wanted the truth, so keeping a
vise grip on my arms, my parents marched me to school
into the cluttered office of The Principal.

My parents informed her that they had heard I had
been debadged and the reason I had given was so
ridiculous they needed to hear the truth.
They could take it.

The Principal admitted she had no idea I’d been
debadged and would confer with the Home Economic’s

My execution was postponed until my parents knew
exactly what they were killing me for.

While waiting for the information to be inscribed
on my death warrant, I was grounded. I could attend
no parties, see no movies and could not watch

Fortunately, this did not go on very long. The
Principal phoned my mother, confirmed my story,
and added that I should attend her office to be

My parents released me from solitary confinement
without apology, certain there was some ‘hidden’
reason that was so horrendous it could not be put
into words.

Although unable to fully comprehend the ramifications
it seemed to me that not being a Prefect released me
from Sixth Form Slavery.

I could sleep later in the mornings, come home
earlier in the afternoon, was exempt from all
duties, responsible for nothing.

With all respect, I didn’t much care for the crummy
plastic badge anyway.

I never went to the Principal’s office to be reinstated.

I understand that being a Prefect is supposed to teach
‘leadership’. I thought it taught how to do unpaid work
as if it was a privilege.


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