Saturday, March 15, 2008

Catholic school

Considering some of the topics of this blog, you may be surprised that my son went to a Catholic high school. The local public school, Sacramento High School, is the second oldest high school west of the Mississippi River, but it had gone downhill since 1859. It certainly was not considered a “good” school, and my son’s dads and I were not happy about sending him there, but it had just been taken over by the St. Hope Public Charter Schools, so we thought we’d give it a try. He had been there for three whole weeks, when I got two messages on my voicemail at work.

The first one was, “This is Sac High. Your son has been in a fight. Come and pick him up.”

The next one was, “We sent your son to the hospital. Go and get him there.”

Bill drove the slightly panicky me to the hospital, while I contacted my son’s dads. When we got there, my son was nearly unrecognizable. His eyes were swollen almost shut, his nose was swollen and mashed to one side, he was drenched in blood, and he was having trouble talking. The hospital wouldn’t give him pain killers until I got there, so he was also in pretty major pain. Once they gave him drugs, he was much happier, and fairly comfortably stoned by the time David and Pete arrived a few minutes later. He was happily wheeled off for a CT scan, and later we were all impressed when a woman from CSI, Sacramento showed up to interview him and take photos.

What actually happened:

My son (as well as many other kids) skateboarded to school. Bikes and walking are apparently passé. Skateboards don’t fit into the school lockers, so the kids carried them around all day. My son was outdoors, but in P.E. class. The freshman kids were waiting for the teacher to show up. The skateboards were all lined up against the fence. An older (and bigger) kid came by, took one of the skateboards and started skating around on it. A teacher came out of a nearby classroom and confiscated the skateboard – that didn’t belong to this kid.

Unconcerned, the kid just sauntered over and picked up another one - my son’s - and started skating around on it. My son, not wanting to have his skateboard confiscated, and apparently more stupid than not as intimidated as the other kids, went over and said, “Hey, a$$hole. Give me back my skateboard” and started reaching for the board. As he bent down, the kid punched up, and my son’s nose got the full brunt of both actions. He was completely focused on the board and never saw it coming.
Now, I don't know about you, but this doesn't sound like a "fight" to me.

The doctor said she had never seen a nose broken so badly from just one punch. She said it was broken into too many pieces to count. His eye socket was also cracked.This happened on a Friday, and David, Pete and I went in to meet with the school principal and school police officer on Monday. Yes, I said school police officer. The principal started out the conversation with, "So which one is this?"

We were confused.

"We have a lot of fights here," he said added helpfully.

"Yeah, I've been arresting a kid a day here," the police officer chimed in.

It turned out that parents were sending all the problem kids who had been in trouble at other area schools to the new St. Hope. The principal explained that they were being "weeded out," and it should get better soon. Unfortunately, for each kid "weeded out" there was a "victim." Phone-camera self portrait taken a few days later when the swelling had started to go down.

We weren't willing to wait it out. We immediately drove to the nearby Christian Brother's High School where my son's best friend was going. They couldn't let him start so late in the semester, so we home schooled him for a while, and he started there the next January. For various reasons, it turned out to be a very good experience for him.

The kid that attacked him was caught by the campus cop when he showed up again a few days later, ended up in court, and was placed in a juvenile detention facility. Unfortunately for him, there was an entire class full of witnesses. After he testified, my son said he just felt sorry for the guy.

David and I both have rather large nasal structures. My son didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of having a small nose. Until the reconstructive surgeries. The plastic surgeon gave him the opportunity to have whatever nose he wanted. He chose the one closest to what the surgeon thought he would have had before. It didn't turn out too badly!If someone says, “I’m gonna rearrange yer face,” I recommend taking them seriously. They can do it.

Is that a small furry animal attacking his chin? Yikes!

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