A rebel's ode to art class and band

When school budgets are cut, teachers aren't the only ones clutching the dreaded pink slip. In my school, where the pink slip often meant a trip to the principal's office, the programs that went first - music, dance, photography - tended to be the ones that attracted kids whose behavior pushed the envelope.

I know. I was one of those kids.

My first pink slip came when, as a wee first-grader, I kept a circle of girls wide awake and wimpering during nap time with tales of ghosts and goblins lurking in the shadows.

A year later, not long after I penned my first poem, which included the line "I'd rather wade in wiggly mud than smell a yellow rose," I was caught leading a cohort of shoeless classmates through the damp, sandy playground. This pink slip meant detention, and a trail of muddy footprints followed me all the way to the principal's office.

My teachers were befuddled. How should they handle a straight-A student with a wild streak?

As the years went by, I found more productive ways to channel all that energy. I took up swimming, ballet, and soccer. I studied piano and the clarinet. I even tried painting. The more involved I was, the more involved I wanted to be.

When I reached high school, my extracurricular activities kept me at school almost round the clock. My friends and I were budding musicians, politicians, and math whizzes who traveled to distant schools to compete against other math whizzes. We were partners in crime, but too busy to stir up any trouble.

Without activities that allowed me to expend my energy creatively, I may have gone looking for fun in places that weren't so constructive, in dark shadows where ghosts and goblins lurk - the ones that keep little girls awake at nap time.

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