Sproul - July 2008

Part 2 - Sproul Jr. High

by Bruce McAlexander

I'm not sure what went through my head after leaving North Elementary and knowing Junior High was awaiting me. I believe I felt a little overwhelmed when I found out I would be going to the high school on split shifts while Sproul was being finished being built. After all, those high school kids looked more like adults to me than kids.

I don't remember what hours we went to the high school compared to the high schoolers, but I know it felt a little weird to me in more than one way. Moving from one teacher's class to a different teacher's class in a short time I found a little overwhelming in that now I had more than one teacher to worry about if they would like me or, even worse, if I would like them. I did get in trouble right away in my P.E.-Health class when my teacher, Mr. Gorham, the Vice Principle's brother, was telling us all what we needed for class and I asked, after being encouraged by Tom Shepherd to do so, what a jockey strap was. Of course, as I re-counted the event, the whole class laughed and Mr. Gorham thought I was being a typical smart aleck. But as I said at the reunion, having two sisters, I was more familiar with bras than a jockey strap. He snapped at me and I thought to myself that this is going to be a long school year. Later on I found out that my dad went and talked to Mr. Gorham so apparently I shared enough at home to put my dad into action. Speaking of gym class, do you remember how we had to wear white shorts with white t-shirts, and how we had to line up around the gym and occasionally pull our shorts part way down so our teacher could make sure we were wearing the "jock" straps? That was always fun! And I remember the incidents in the locker room while getting ready for class and getting ready for showers. I hated the snapping of the towels, and worse yet, was if some other classmate noticed something while being unclothed that he might want to share with our fellow classmates. I remember going to the furthest corner more than once and dressing or undressing as quickly as possible, so I could get out of that locker room. To this day, I don't know if my root of all my deep psychological problems didn't come from my locker room experiences. I'm not sure if puberty is not what stunted me in more than one way. Please, no comments requested or necessary.

I remember how exciting it was to go to Sproul the first day and how new and shiny everything appeared. At the high school I hadn't been very aware of the eight graders, but they now stood out and looked much older to me. And for whatever reason, I now was more aware of the girls that had come over from the other grade schools, Widefield Elementary and South Elementary. I was relieved to get away from the "high-schoolers."

I thought it was cool that we had tennis courts out west of the building with the three terrace levels. I thought that was cool until our P.E. instructors had us run laps around them, and it wasn't much fun playing basketball on the top level when the ball got away and rolled to the lower level. We boys had our own shop room with Mr. Bowers as the instructor and the girls had their own Home Economics room. Larry Cordova, Don Collier, and myself were ahead of our time when it came to the Home Economics room in that we went down and asked the teacher if we could join the Home Economics Club that took place after school. I can't speak for Don or Larry, but I thought it was a good way to hang around the girls and feed my face. I don't remember the teacher's name, but I remember that she acted a little surprise by our request, but she let us join and participate. The cookies were good. I got a little chubby my seventh and eighth grade years and later on as I have already accounted Larry told me he was afraid of me because I was fatter than he was. That's the last time I ever felt macho and to have Larry express fear toward me because I might end up sitting on him, tells me I needed to join some other club other than home economics.

One last thought about my "chubby days", is that during the summer breaks my parents continued to send me back to Kansas where our relatives lived so they didn't have to worry about baby sitters. I often stayed with my aunt and uncle on their farm where fried chicken was eaten often. When I came back that summer I had grown but only around the waist. My mother, to save money, would order our school clothes from catalogs and when I returned from Kansas and tried on my new school clothes there was a little problem in that my fat kept the zipper from going up easily. As an adult, after countless hours in counseling and getting a Master's Degree in counseling, I found out how stunted I've been because of that major event in those years. You see, one day Ron Petty and Don Collier came by and had to watch my mother help put up my zipper as I laid on the couch and sucked in my belly while my mom took a pair of pliers to the zipper. Do you think Ron and Don kept this information to themselves? If I didn't handle
this event well, can you imagine how I handled puberty? Don't worry, I'm not going there, again, but a "Freudian" psychologist would have so much fun with my mother zipping my new jeans with a pair of pliers. Could this be the event to explain how my female classmates responded to me over the years, or could it be better explained my standing there in gym and having to pull down my white shorts to show I was wearing the jockey strap?

The science class room was on the lower level and I thought it was so cool because we had desks on an elevated platform. It gave me a sense that we all must be getting smarter to have desk also on different levels. Could this be a prelude to college? In seventh grade this happened to be the class that had my favorite teacher even though science wasn't my favorite subject. I liked the teacher and his name was Mr. McMinn. We had a new invention back then called a transistor radio, and one day Mr. McMinn caught me playing my transistor radio with my ear plug in because I started tapping my feet or singing along. He didn't yell at me, but in fact just smiled and had me remove it from my ear. I had Mr. Cantrell for math, Mrs. Dedrick for English (she had a son named Danny), Mr. Herbert for some kind of social studies and he was a grump despite being married to Mrs. Herbert one of my favorite teachers. I had Mr. Marvin and Mr. Gorham for Physical Education and Mr. Bowers for Shop. At one point, I had Mrs. Sullivan who appeared to have lived in the eighteenth century for math as well. I remember while being on our split shifts at the high school that one day I walked into her class and looked at the clock that was above the door and couldn't see the clock's face because there were so many spit balls covering it. No doubt we all remember the days when the weather was too bad to do the normal stuff for gym class and we all had to square dance with the girls. I thought that was fun and safe because the girls had no choice but to dance with me, my gain and their loss!

There were a lot of kids that went to junior high with me and I don't know whatever happened to them. There was a Skip Norgross, Preston Colter, Joel Sankey (Joy's Woods first love), Dean Pinder, Harry King, Carolyn Simpson, and Tony Velencia that lived in the old farm house down off of Fontaine in Widefield. There was Rhoda Brunz and Carol Krause. Of course, the Security and Widefield area had the military always coming and going. I remember when Harry King showed up because evidently the girls like the new boys on the block because I remember Meg Hulsey walked down the hall in a short time with him. It wasn't long before the new reality of the girls in my class showing interest in the older boys. Candy Burdell showed interest in an eight grader named Scot Pool. How were we seventh graders going to compete with the older guys? It didn't seem quite fair in that the older boys liked the younger girls, but it didn't seem that the older girls were never interested in the seventh grade boys. Yes, another reason to continue to go to therapy.

Terry Chambers' uncle, Mr. Chambers I liked very much for reading. I remember that he was teaching us supposedly to speed read and often his room was used for detention, our introduction to prison life. Don Collier had to go to detention for weeks one time after being caught with one of our class mates’ picture taken in the nude. Now I know what some of you are thinking, how did they get that picture? Let me digress a little more, please. In seventh grade we were introduced to another new invention which made a lot of us excited called a Polaroid camera. I remember saving my money and going to the Rexall Drug Store to buy me a new one, but I had no idea how expensive the film was at the time. No, it wasn't my camera that took the picture, but apparently, a few other people bought a camera as well. I went out after school and was waiting for Don Collier to show up and he never showed up. Another class mate came out eventually and informed me that I was going to have a long wait because Don was in detention. That definitely got my curiosity going, wondering what Don had done. Finally he came out from Mr. Chambers class room where detention usually took place and he informed me of the event. It seemed a girl had a crush on Joe Good and decided to give Don a picture to give to Joe, but Don decided to show it to a few other people before giving it to Joe. And you can only imagine how seventh grade boys were responding to such a picture, and apparently it didn't take long for a teacher to notice something and confiscate it. Apparently, the young lady had her sister take the picture for her, but if I remember right Don was on detention for many weeks. Another invention of the times was a small tape recorder that Ron Petty and I both decided we needed. One can only imagine why seventh grade boys bought such a device, however, this time I don't remember anyone having to be in detention, but maybe we should have been.

In junior high I got to spend the night more often at friends houses and crawling out of windows to explore became more regular, and sometimes we ran into other friends as well. It seemed that parties in peoples houses became more frequent and dancing on the driveways was already taking place before the song, "Dancing in the Street" even came out. It seemed Joy Woods and Don Collier were always having parties. I loved dancing to "Soldier Boy" because the girls seemed to be a little emotionally connected to that song. I think I was more connected to the song "Running Bear." Never mind! At this stage more realities came into my life, one of which was finding myself liking girls differently than before. Joel Sankey came onto the scene in seventh grade and he had a lot attention from the guys because he was a very good athlete, and he had a lot of attention from the girls as well. It was in seventh grade I became aware of Tom Nigbur because I tried to tackle him on that dirt field with all the sandburrs. That was not a good experience for me. I found John Peyton difficult to tackle in seventh grade, but here Tom in eight grade was slightly bigger. I remember once Mr. Bowers, the shop teacher, challenging Joe Sankey and some other classmates to a race in the hundred yard dash. I believe Terry Chambers or Perry Pierce was in it too. Mr. Bowers beat them all despite having a very distinct "pot belly". Then there was the day Mr. Bowers cut some of his fingers off while in shop. To this day I have heard many stories about what took place that day. However, I do remember that day hearing about it during classes and how some of my classmates were describing how after cutting them off, how they jumped around like Mexican Jumping Beans. I found that rather disgusting. When you are young, one often thinks a teacher doesn't like them, which might be true or might not be true. Anyway, I always had the impression Mr. Bowers, who had the new high school gym named after him, never liked me. So when we had a new substitute teacher come in for a few weeks I was delighted, even though I did feel bad about his fingers. However, I remember the day he came back and yelled at us for our work we had done while he was gone. He had given us a choice to make a clipboard or a chopping block for our class project. I chose the clipboard. Mine turn out so bad that after leaving class with it one day there had been a small snow fall, that I used it as a sled until it fell apart out in front of Sproul. The substitute teacher let us finish our projects long before he should have and Mr. Bowers was right, we knew what he wanted, but we took full advantage of his absence. But he brought us back to a new reality the first day he returned. I should have stayed in that Home Economic Class after all.


In junior high I always thought Pete Spier was the guy who always made me laugh. Later on in high school he was responsible for Mrs. Adams putting me on probation for National Honor Society. Pete had the ability to make noises with his hand under his arm pits and one day in Mrs. Adams class he displayed his talent and in Mrs. Adams eyes I made a mistake and laughed at him. Thus, I wasn't representing the N.H.S. the way I should have been. I was put on probation for a whole semester. I think Mrs. Adams had other issues with me than Pete. I was fortunate that Mr. Rounds, who was also the wrestling coach for a while in high school, didn't go to her and inform her about using a certain finger coming back on the bus to cars as they drove by. That I couldn't blame on Pete, but maybe Ron or Don. I remember that if you wanted to see what some of your other classmates were doing, you could go after school down to the drainage ditch by the railroad tracks and even smoke. The dances after school were fun, but it was always a little scary to go and ask that girl if she would dance with you. I liked the snow ball dances. In gym when we squared dance the girls didn't have a choice, but the after school dances they could turn you down if they would like. Chuck Johnson and some other boys came up with some cool bikes that were like twelve feet in the air that they came to school on. I liked the wooden stilts that we had learned to walk on, but the bikes were cooler yet.

My older sister, who was three years older, played a big influence on those years. I liked when she brought her girl friends around our house. She would tell me how I needed to dress and taught me to dance when American Bandstand was on and afterwards when breaking out the old 45's. She would even drag me to dance contest to enter with her, so I had an advantage when there was fast music being played at the school dances, because most of the boys were waiting for the slow dances so they wouldn't look like, in their minds, fools. But later on came the dances where you didn't have to hold on to the girl like the twist, the pony, the mashed potatoes, gravy, the locomotion, the jerk, etc. and I lost my advantage.

One year in junior high, they elected an all star team from our intermural football teams and I was put on it, but I didn't play. Someone must have been impressed that I was stupid enough to try to tackle Tom Nigbur. We went down and played Fountain on their field. Widefield didn't have a football field for a while and actually played at Colorado College's field for a couple of years. I didn't play in the game because I was told I had a strained Achilles tendon. But I went to the game and sat right in the middle of the girls in the stands and had a good time, until I found out later that the coaches thought I was faking it, my injury that is. The next years I didn't make any all star team and that event even carried over to high school. The coaches talked among themselves. To be fair to the coaches, I probably could have played, but I really had hurt it earlier and chose the attention from the girls. Ron Petty had talked me into going out for football again as a sophomore and I was at a morning practice when John Dawson threw a pass behind me which I turned to try to catch and something went out of my knee. It hurt so bad when I got up. I could tell the coaches thought I was faking it and I walked from the practice field all the way to the office. Before I got there, I had tears running down my cheeks and my knee was huge and throbbing. I went in a couple of days later for knee surgery and never went out for sports again because the doctor said I couldn't, but I kept dancing. I found out later that my dad made a second visit to the school, not for a "jock strap" this time, but for me having to get to the office without any help. Mr. Rounds came to the hospital to see me which I was happy about until he told me he and the other coaches thought I was faking it. A carry over for not playing in that all star game at Fountain. Gillie, Joy, Candy, Meg, and Vickie should feel guilty for wanting me to sit in the stands with them. However, Mr. Rounds did make it up to me by not telling Mrs. Adams about "the bird". By the way, that was the last time I ever knowingly used that gesture. My eyesight has sometimes been an advantage to me in that I’m not aware of any hand gestures from others directed toward me.

The "slam books" were always an interest to me. Don Collier actually still has a slam book from those days. It always brought in a plethora of feelings (are you shock that I know such a word?) When I got hold of a slam book. What were certain people going to say about me, was my name in the book at all, was I going to be listed on the pages such as best dressed, best dancers, most friendly, and what was I going to say about different class mates. I understand why they no longer all such things in school, but they never caused a crisis in my life such the pliers did in my mom's hand.

We ended back up at Widefield high school for our freshman year, so that year and a half at Sproul went rather quickly. When in Security, you should take the time and drive by the school. The Sproul Spartans have a very nice gym and even a grass football field, but the school in general looks the same with the little grass area still in the center. However, I have been told there is no longer a home economics room. What can I say? Welcome to Widefield High school Levi Bruce.