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March 16, 2011 / Lauren

You say you want a revolution?

When I was a kid, I went to a huge elementary school (word up to all my Jenks East fools!) I started there in the middle of first grade, and I distinctly remember my mom’s shock at the thousands-strong K-5 campus. (‘There are 16 class sections of first grade? Your last school had four!’) However, I adjusted well and totally loved my mega-elementaryplex. I settled into a happy groove over the years as I kicked multiplication table ass (except the 12 column, which for some reason was incredibly difficult for me) and square danced my dorky little heart out in PE. Thankfully, by this point, my mullet was gone. Had I still been rockin’ it, I could have easily died of being far too awesome to actually exist.

One of the best things about my school was obviously the recess en masse. I truly can’t believe this now, and maybe things have changed, but twenty years ago, hundreds of children would descend on the largest of our three playgrounds at once, and- I swear to you- there were maybe four adults present. These were the teacher aides, brave souls donning reflective yellow vests, presumably so we kids would know exactly who to be on the lookout for when we wanted to break the rules. Not that I spent a lot of time breaking the rules.

Most kids spent the midday break playing tag or tetherball or hitting the monkey bars. However, my friend Raashee and I were both hopelessly un-athletic. We did all sorts of cool non-sporty activities like putting acorns in a straight line and singing Seal’s Kiss From A Rose.

Did you know that when it snows, my eyes become large and the light that you shine can be seen? BAYBAY!

(You’re welcome.)


So one sunny afternoon in the 4th grade, Raashee and I were minding our own business, sitting near acorn row and likely discussing the finer points of Superfudge or Ticonderoga pencils or something, when a nearby group of 5th grade boys began to cause a ruckus. Raashee and I were scared at first and we probably looked like this:


But then we were all, ‘Ooh, this is gonna be good’:

Thrilling, even.

From what we gathered, they had been playing real football, and one of the aides approached the group and told them that only touch football was allowed. Now as an adult, this seems perfectly sensible- the aide was attempting to enforce a rule designed to prevent broken bones and black eyes. However, the 5th grade boys were outraged. They were livid. There was screaming. They were being completely bratty and awful. Another aide arrived on the scene.

“You WON’T let us play pogs, you WON’T let us play football, you WON’T let us have fun!” one boy asserted.

The boys egged each other on, and more and more kids were coming around to see what was going on. Within moments, a full-on mob had developed. Raashee and I joined the group, now hundreds strong, running in a massive clump across the dusty playground, chasing a helpless pair of yellow-vested teacher aides, shaking our tiny fists of rage. (Most of the kids in the stampede didn’t even know the catalyst was the tackle football issue; it just seems that if there is a large group of children running around screaming, other children will join in just for a good chance to run and scream.)

Ultimately, The Great Tackle Football Riot of 1994 ended with one aide taking control of the situation and radioing for backup. The principal came out, told us she was ashamed of our behavior, and sent us all to our respective classrooms immediately.

The other aide, panicked and sweaty, had crawled through a big concrete drain pipe out onto 91st Street and was speedwalking eastward, away from the scene.

It sounds totally, undeniably insane. It was crazy. But I promise you this bizarre Lord-Of-The-Fliesesque tale is absolutely true.

Later that afternoon, the principal came over the intercom and announced that all 5th grade boys had their recess rights revoked for an entire week. The rest of us ultimately went back to our usual recess routines, and the incident faded into the past.

When my dad picked me up that afternoon, he turned down the radio and asked “So how was school today? Do anything fun?

“Nah. It was just a regular day.” I answered.

And in a way, it was.



Leave a Comment
  1. Cortney / Mar 17 2011 11:58 am

    LOVE IT!

  2. Robin / Mar 17 2011 5:13 pm

    There were approximately 16 kids in the entire first grade at my school so you can imagine my shock at the multitudes! Anyway, asking 5th grade boys from Jenks to not play football is like asking the girls on the Jersey shore to refrain from tanning………. What were they thinking?

    • Lauren / Mar 18 2011 8:15 am

      Exactly! You can’t take football away from Jenks boys and not expect a riot of some kind.

  3. EL Jay / Mar 17 2011 6:29 pm

    I miss pogs!

    And I really like this post.

    • Lauren / Mar 18 2011 8:15 am

      Let’s pog! You feelin’ better?

  4. Catherine Bender / Mar 20 2011 11:47 pm

    That was amazing. I mean, really. I think you should write a book.

  5. hannah / Mar 24 2011 12:45 pm


  6. Mary E / Mar 24 2011 5:37 pm

    Hey Lauren!! My mom sent me a link to your blog – she loves it and sent me the link because she thought she recognized your name! You had me at The Great Tackle Football Riot of 1994!! Seriously, tears! I AM however disappointed that you didn’t shout out Meg and I from when we joined forces with you and Raashe to plan our elaborate dance routine to the Friends theme song…which we of course never ended up doing for the Talent Show. But hey, we had some pretty fierce practices by the monkey bars!
    Stay flawless my dear! You have huge fans in the Ellerbachs 😉 Welcome to the big time and you’re welcome for the honor!

    • Lauren / Mar 24 2011 8:45 pm

      Mary! I’m so glad you found me! I think the Friends dance was 5th grade… perhaps a sequel post is in order? A through-the-years tour of the awkwardness that is the life of an 11 year old in south Tulsa? We should probably get together sometime and listen to Hootie and the Blowfish… on cassette tape. It’ll be just like the old days!

  7. Kellyology / Mar 29 2011 10:23 pm

    I went to Jenks East when it was brand spanking new. In fact my class of 4th graders was the first to arrive. And…I remember those days where the entire 4th grade would descend upon the playground all at once. You’re right. There were almost no adults there. But in my day…we were allowed to play football, and we played tackle. Also, it wasn’t just a boy thing. The girls and boys enjoyed tackle football together. Of course my girlfriend did completely bust up her arm during one of those games, but it was worth it. And the playground song sung in unison complete with choreography during my time at Jenks East? Kenny Rogers, The Gambler. “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run…” And you’re welcome.

    • Lauren / Mar 29 2011 10:53 pm

      Coed tackle football? That is kind of awesome and dangerous! I’m so jealous that you sang Kenny R. on the playground. Did you make little construction paper goatees? If not, it’s certainly not too late to craft one right up and belt out the chorus!

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