Welcome to the 12th Day of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR! And boy, have I got a story to tell all of you today! It's related to the themes that I have in place for Mondays in December which is all about holiday celebrations and school.
This time around, we are going back in time to the year 1998 - and to be honest with you, it's one of the few pleasant memories that I have of high school. Funny thing is, it's a memory in which I was forbidden to speak any English!
Okay, so I will set up the story. In September 1998, I had started the twelfth grade, and I was not really in a great mood that year. My eleventh grade year was a complete emotional trainwreck from beginning to end, and I really didn't expect grade twelve to be any better. After all, I was forced to take general level mathematics after nearly flunking Grade 11 Advanced Math - and come to think of it, all of my grades really tanked my eleventh grade year because of the stress that I was under.
The fact that many of my classmates didn't care about me was also a factor behind my mood - but of course, I couldn't really stand them either, so the feeling was mutual on both our parts.
Though, I was trying to look at Grade 12 as being a more positive experience. As far as my classes went, I genuinely liked most of them. My Grade 12 math teacher ended up being a saint and he helped me understand math better than the teacher I had the year before. I also took English and North American Civilizations that semester and had good experiences in both.
However, my favourite class was OAC French. At that time, Ontario had an optional thirteenth grade offered, and since French was only offered every other year, I decided to take it in Grade 12. Mind you, the degree of difficulty between Grade 11 French and OAC French was huge, and sometimes I had a hard time keeping up. But Ms. Keyes did her best to help me keep up with the rest of the class. After all, I was the only kid in the class that hadn't taken the French Immersion program in elementary school. I needed all the help I could get!
One of the things that made OAC French so difficult was the fact that in the month of December, we had to do an oral independent study presentation on any subject of our choosing - ENTIRELY IN FRENCH. And, did I mention that the presentation had to be at least 20 minutes in length?
Now, we were told of this project at the beginning of class, so we had a good three months to plan for it. But by the middle of November, I still hadn't submitted my idea for the project. I know that two of the ideas that I wanted to do were already taken by other people in the class, and I really wanted to show my class that I could do a fantastic and creative presentation that would earn me a great grade.
And time definitely was on my side. The teacher assigned presentation spots by last name, and as it so happened, my presentation time was on the last day before Christmas vacation. But I still wanted to have the time to work on it so I could really make it great - and I also sort of wanted to put a Christmas spin on it as well, given that my presentation was just before Christmas vacation.
It wasn't too long after finishing my homework and watching Jeopardy on television that I came up with my answer.
I was going to do my presentation in the form of a game show like Jeopardy where I would divide the class into two teams, and they would answer questions in French about a general subject! I did up about 20 questions, I included a couple of daily doubles, and I even signed out one of the televisions and VCR's to use for the presentation!
Now, I suppose you're wondering what subject I chose, right?
Well, since I knew that everyone in my class grew up watching Saturday Morning Cartoons - and since I loved learning about animation and how it came to be, I simply did my French project on cartoons!
There were lots of people giving correct and incorrect answers. There was a clip of the Pink Panther Christmas Special where questions were asked (I chose that one because the Pink Panther never spoke - therefore, I couldn't get dinged for using an English video in French class). And I even had treats for the winning team. Mind you, there were in the form of those Haviland chocolate mint patties that were 89 cents a box...but still, I had prizes for the teams!
Perhaps the ultimate prize came from my teacher, who in her comments section on my grade paper said that it was one of the most interesting presentations that she had seen in the class and that it was a brilliant way to ring in the holiday break! My final grade was an 87%! I have a feeling that had I known the right French word for panther and not screwed up my verb tense, I would have bumped that up to a 90%. But that's not the point. The point is that French presentation was just the boost that I needed to finish off the rest of the school year feeling great about myself. I mean, granted, it was just one presentation. But it was just what I needed to stop feeling down. I guess it was the Christmas miracle that I needed in high school, huh?