I would like to share my personal experience that happened during my senior year in high school in 1967. I have proven that saying nice remarks to a school principal pays. It was our principal who saved me from humiliation when my name was obliterated from the roll of honor students by the head of the faculty. The principal, although he did not know me personally, remembered me because there was that prior incident when I introduced him to announce to the student body where I praised him in my introduction. Here is the whole story.
Insofar as grades are concerned, I ranked #6 in the roll of seven honor students. Our graduating class has a strength of 65 students. Two weeks before the graduation exercises, the administration posted the roll of honor students. The sixth slot which supposedly belonged to me was taken by my classmate who was not supposed to be there. The entire list of the roll showed an all-women team. Not one from the male population had been included because I was dislodged courtesy of the faculty antagonistic to me.
Why was the faculty so discordant to my person? Well, because I was no ordinary student who would only while away the time inside the classroom and wait for the final buzzer. I am a kind of a student who doesn’t just let things to pass unsettled for fear that the teacher would retaliate to those students who value their economic freedom. In fact, it was only our class adviser who was so intimate to me, maybe because he would always assign me to correct the theme papers of all the students under him from third year down to first year. Imagine, a student correcting the work of his fellow students when this authority belongs exclusively to a teacher? I was given the blanket authority to mark the final grades on their theme papers, including comments supposed to be undertaken only by the teacher. This happened because our class adviser who was also our English teacher highly respected my English skills.
One of the most intriguing incidents that fueled the wrath of the faculty towards me was when I let loose a handful of gravel from my palm like tenpin balls to land underneath the table of our World History teacher. The teacher did not notice me doing that. I was seated at the second row at the aisle side fronting the teacher. Only our salutatorian had the courage to shed light on the incident. That cost me the chances to the heart of the salutatorian whom I courted since we were still freshmen. She felt something with me—ill-feeling.
I was summoned by the faculty to give my side. I defended my action by telling them the truth that I don’t like the way the teacher handles the subject. She lacks pedagogic skills being a pharmacist by profession. Why gave us a pharmacist to handle World History? Imagine, that teacher would remain seated throughout the whole session reading the contents of the textbook to the class. So, I told the head teacher to fire our teacher in order for the school to save money on salaries and then have the pages of the book photocopied as hand-outs, no need for a teacher because we will just study the module by ourselves. They heeded my advice. They fired the teacher, but not before the graduation day came.
Our high school was a sister high school of the one where the principal spent most of his time. He would only come to our school when he had some important announcement to make. He just left the administration of the school to the faculty. We were already very lucky then if the principal would be in our school once a month. So, it goes without saying that the principal knew nothing about me because even during our pass-in-reviews he would not be around. Otherwise, he would have distinguished me because I was the company commander of Alpha Company in our school military training.
A month before graduation, the principal made an unexpected visit to our school while we were very busy with our calisthenics on the school grounds. Our commandant and Algebra teacher signalled to the whole student population to gather before the stage because the principal had to announce something of importance. So, we did. The commandant called my attention to go up the stage to introduce the guest speaker. I refused politely by saying that, “Why me, Sir? Our valedictorian is here, you should call her instead.” The commandant insisted. “Go up, I want you to be the one to take the action. Go and introduce the principal.”
Having cornered already, I obeyed. I composed myself, went upstage, faced the students, and started talking in impromptu. I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we should be very thankful that on this very afternoon we are graced by the presence of a person who deserves all our respect and admiration. It is my great pleasure to introduce to you our dynamic and energetic principal, Mr. xxx”
I could see the grin of the principal on his face while managing on the steps going up to the stage. Before the thousand students, he said, “The emcee called me dynamic and energetic, when in fact he is more dynamic and energetic than I am.” A thunderous applause followed, more magnanimous than the applause accorded to him after my introduction.
Two days after the posting of the roll of honors, I was told by the head teacher to see the principal at his office situated at the next town some 15 kilometers away from our school. The principal told me to sit down and that was the very time that we talked vis-a-vis. He told me that he revised the roll of honors and put me at the sixth slot dislodging my classmate. I was speechless. He told me to go home and tell my mother about it so she could buy a graduation dress fitted for a lone male honor student.
I answered him at a very low voice. “Sir, it’s already moot and academic at this point to change the roll of honors because the parents of the honor students already knew about it and you will be facing a lot of trouble for doing it.” He retorted, “No! Wenefredo, if I will not change the roll of honors I will be doing a great injustice to you because your grades demand that you should be in the sixth slot. I don’t care if those parents will stage retaliatory measures to my action. You deserved it, boy.” I answered, “Sir, the reason why the faculty was against me is because of Good Manners and Right Conduct.” He said angrily, “To hell with that Good Manners and Right Conduct. Go home right now and tell your mother to buy you a nice white dress and see you on graduation night.”
When I arrived at the school the next morning, no less than the principal supervised the posting of a revised roll of honors. I was finally vindicated. But why? How did the principal come to such a volatile decision? He could be assassinated by his action. As a matter of fact, on the night of the graduation rites, the thing that I was fearing of almost came to its fulfillment. The brother of my dislodged classmate asked me where the principal was. I said I don’t know. I saw a .45 caliber pistol tucked on his waist. The man did not recognize me as the replacement to his sister in the honor roll.
I could not forget and never will I forget that event in my life as a student. The principal must have recalled the nice remarks that I uttered in that introduction that I made for him. It is not the concern of a principal to be looking into the grades of the honor students presented to him. His signature is just ministerial, isn’t? It is the faculty who has the authority over these things. It is not for the principal to intervene with the affair of the faculty, unless there is a presence of a valid complaint. But there was none because I already conceded. What seemed to be the real reason of it all? I leave it to your honest opinion.
I am sharing this thing to you not because I want to be glorified. If ever I laid down my feats and accomplishments as a student, it was only meant to spice your wisdom in order to arrive at an honest conclusion that indeed the title of this article is justifiable.