300 Words


Notes from a Davidson Classroom

By John Syme

May 5, 2011—In Chambers 3187, computers click, paper rustles. Students murmur, sitting in clumps and alone, in postures ranging from fight-or-flight to utter defeat. O, the dread! O, the drama!

O, the bed-head. It is Reading Day before finals. Even the chairs in Room 3187 are jumbled in a temporary confusion. Out the window, a sunlit world beckons. But first the cramming. Delete some childhood memories, boys and girls, your GPA needs the space!

May 11, 2011—Approaching Chambers at the last possible exam period, the dome looks cheerless and forbidding, the Chamber Maids like gargoyles. Past the flagpole, up the worn steps and over a mountain of tired book bags and dying spiral notebooks left behind by the current generation of All Who Enter Here This Day. Through the columns, into the Land of Finals, perhaps the summum bonum of the Honor Code: self-scheduled exams.

Down the hallowed hall into Spencer Lobby, the registrar’s temporary triage unit and exam dispensary is in full swing. A pail of chocolate candy sits on the “A through J” table: Have a handful to help manage those panic-attack blues!

A kid in noise-cancelling headphones, unruly hair, and a five-day beard takes his envelope and saunters off, begins peering into classrooms for a spot. Finally he plops unenthusiastically into a random seat. He slowly opens his envelope, looks at Question One, and stares into the empty maw of the blue book before him. He will do better than he thinks he will.

Onward to Room 3187. The door is closed. On the other side of it, history suggests, sharp young minds are opening their thoughts onto the page.

Hear the wisdom of the ages, sharp young minds: soon, many more doors will open for you. And you’ll be ready.

Fix your hair. Wear sunscreen. We love you.


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