Saturday, November 26, 2011

Classroom Scandal Part 3 - The Investigation... Ends?

Classroom 4Sc1, SMK St. George. 14th November, 2011. 11:07 a.m.

At this very moment, here in the classroom of 4Sc1, a very important discussion is taking place. Here's the story: An anonymous letter addressed to the principal of the school was written with the intention to, as they say, "troll", four teachers in the school. The only indication to the writer's identity was the alias, 4Sc1 written on the head of the letter. There are twenty-five of us in class. Well... more or less. These days, more and more people don't come to school, because the school holidays are approaching and all. Nevertheless, those of us who have come, are going to get to the bottom of this.

"What's that you're writing over there?" Student19 looked over Student12's shoulder.
"Uh, nothing." Student12 hastily shut his notebook and shoved it into his pocket.


The classroom had been in an atmosphere of gloomy unrest ever since the discussion began. Currently, Teacher had revealed Student16 and Student20 to be the most suspected by the teachers. However, most of the other students knew both of them for who they were, and it seemed unlikely that either of them could have done it. Everyone there was in a mood to find out the culprit.
As the discussion continued, Teacher told the students a few more details about the letter, as well as the investigations that had been carried out on the teachers' part.

"The letter was very nicely printed out, and in complete 'Formal Letter' format too, just like they teach in Bahasa Melayu class." Teacher explained. "No joke. It wasn't just a simple wall of text. Whoever wrote this letter did it by the textbook."

The students took this into new light among themselves. "Whoever did this must be good at Bahasa Melayu," they said.
Several pairs of eyes turned towards a rotund boy sitting in the front row.
"Oh, what, now you suspect me too?" Student21 moaned in denial.


Student25 patted him on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it. Its just because you're the best at Bahasa Melayu."
Teacher chipped in. "Anyway, it wasn't you. Your Bahasa Melayu teacher read the letter and compared it to the various writing styles she has seen in your essays. Although she couldn't exactly pinpoint the culprit, she managed to eliminate a few suspects from the board."

A psychological sigh of relief passed through everyone's mind. At least someone was getting close to the bottom of the investigation.

Just then, a few more students entered the class. Obviously late, they apologized to the teacher and took their seats. A few of the students around them briefed them on the current situation.

"You know..." Teacher looked like she was about to begin telling a story, something that happened occasionally during Chemistry class. "I once heard a tale about a similar situation that took place at another school. I don't know whether its true or not, but apparently, someone typed a hate-mail to the principal. You see, this took place some years ago, when everyone used typewriters instead of printers. Well, there were only four typewriters in the whole school, and when they squinted very carefully at the words, one of the letters, I'm not sure which one, was slightly unaligned from the other letters, and from there they were able to deduce which typewriter-"

"Excuse me, teacher?" One of the students who had just entered class had raised his hand.
Teacher snapped back to reality from wherever she had been when she began telling the story. "Oh. What is it?"
By the way, this would be Student17 whose speaking to Teacher.


"Uh... so someone wrote a letter of complaint to the Principal? Anonymously? From this class?"
"Yes. We're trying to find out who it was."
Student17 thought about it for a while. "Oh... Well, Teacher..." After taking a deep breath of righteousness and dramatic revelation, he said "I think I might know who did it."

At once, the students started asking more questions than they had when their Mathematics teacher had tried teaching them Differentiation. Teacher calmed things down and asked "Who do you think it was?"

"Well... its just a possibility, but... I think it was Suspect01."

(Please note. In order to avoid mixing up the numbers of students, I'm naming this suspect here Suspect01. Despite his different name, Suspect01 is still a student, just like all the other students. The only thing that sets him appart is that he is the first suspect to be brought to surface by the discussion. I had to give him a different name to make him easier to recognise. After all, you can only have so many numbers lined up in a row before they all start looking alike.)

I must admit that this came as a bit of a shock to me. Of all the people any one of us would have suspected, he would have been the last. Teacher was no less startled. At least the suspect himself wasn't present in the classroom.

"You're writing something again." "No I'm not. Stop bothering me." "Quiet, you two. Let's listen to what he has to say." "Sorry, Teacher." "Sorry, Teacher."

Teacher tried to stay calm. "Well, tell us why you suspect him."


"Well, its only a possibility, but I think Suspect01 did it. I mean, he once said something about wanting to write a letter to the principal.
"When did the letter reach the principal's hands? Wasn't it Friday? Something like that. I'm quite sure he came to school on that day. Maybe that's when he planted the letter.
"I'm sure he had a motive to do it too."

After a while, Teacher broke the silence. "Well, that is something. He actually said he was going to write a letter to the principal? I'm sure that if we could get a hold of him, we can interrogate him properly and-"

Student25 interrupted. "Teacher, can I ask Student17 a few questions first? I want to find out a bit more about what he knows."
Teacher shrugged. "Well, of course. Go ahead and ask anything you want."

(Referring to Student25 as Student25 all the time is going to get tiresome, since his name is going to be appearing several more times in the near future. I'm re-aliasing him to... 'Boss'.)


Student17: Well, its only a possibility, but I think Suspect01 did it. I mean, he once said something about wanting to write a letter to the principal.
Boss: Hold it!
 Boss: So, he "said something about wanting to write a letter to the principal"? You mean he wanted to complain about the teachers not completing the syllabus?
 Student17: Uh, not really. He did say he wanted to write a letter of complaint to the principal, but it was because of too much homework.
 Teacher: Too much homework? He was going to write to the principal about that?
 Student17: Well, he only said he was going to. I don't think he ever went through with it. But if he's ready to contemplate the idea, then you never know, right?
 Boss: Hmm... continue.

Student17: When did the letter reach the principal's hands? Wasn't it Friday? Something like that. I'm quite sure he came to school on that day. Maybe that's when he planted the letter.
Boss: Hold it!
 Boss: I thought the letter was shoved under the principal's door at midnight, and she came across it the next morning.
 Student12: *COUGH* *COUGH* *COUGH* *ahem*.... Sorry, Boss. I'm afraid that was a bit of dramatization on my part. No one knows for sure when the letter really reached the principal's office, but it probably wasn't at midnight. And I can't tell for sure how mushc time passed in between her receiveing the letter and confronting the teachers.
 Boss: ....Okay. But let's say the letter was shoved under the door on Friday. What makes you so sure he was at school on that day? Even I have trouble keeping attendance these days.
 Student17: Well... remember that "Unity between races" questionairre that we had to take last week? That was Friday, wasn't it? I distinctly remember seeing him taking the questionairre. So, if he came to school on Friday, and if Friday was the day that the Principal got the letter, then he may have put it in the office on that one day he was at school. One thing for sure is, he hasn't been coming to school since the questionairre day.
 Boss: Hmm... I see.

Student17: I'm sure he had a motive to do it too.
Boss: Hold it!
 Boss: Okay, aside from the whole "I heard him say he was gonna do it" business, why do you suspect him of the crime?
 Teacher: Wait, I just thought of something. The letter was quite particular about your practical Biology teacher being better than your current teacher. So whoever wrote the letter must be quite close to the practical teacher, right?
('Practical Biology Teacher' is now aliased to 'Sah'. As in, you know, 'Sir', but pronounced in Britain. Or wherever. Oh, alright, I'll do the Investigation Record thing as well.)
 Student17: Spot on, Teacher. Suspect01 was very close to Sah, but he didn't like our Biology teacher very much.
 Boss: Alright, I see where you're getting. Suspect01 put Sah in good light in his letter, hoping to have him back as out Biology teacher.
 Student12: (Does Suspect01 take Accountancy? That's one of the subjects mentioned in the letter.)
 Student19: (No, he used to take Accounts, but he stopped after a few months. He might have friend in Accounts, though.)
 Boss: Hmm... no further questions.

This time, Student12 broke the silence. "So do you think it was Suspect01, Teacher?"
"I don't know, but we have certainly learnt a lot from today's discussion. Now that I think about it, Suspect01 was very close to Sah, wasn't he?"
Boss scratched his head. "That's what it looks like now, Teacher."
"Really though, as a teacher, I understand how bad your Biology teacher must feel right now. I mean, the writer actually compared her to a practical teacher. Do you know how sad she was?"
Student24 nudged Boss in the ribs. "Hey, Boss, as the class monitor, you should go and console her."
Everyone stared at him. Student24 was puzzled. "Wait, that's right, isn't it? 'Console'?"

Typically, in a classroom full of teenage boys, the word 'console' is instantly associated with the word 'video game', as in this case, where it causes some confusion.

Student12 tilted his head and thought carefully about it, mentally rolling the word around his mind's tongue. "'Console'... 'console'... Yeah, that sounds right. You console someone who feels upset."
Student24 grinned triumphantly. "Hah! I was right, right? 'Console' is correct! You guys just stared at me like that, and you almost made me believe I was wrong."

A few students, including Boss, started joking around with him.
"When I heard the word 'console', I immediately thought of 'video game console'!"
"Hah! Boss, you should go and 'console' our Biology teacher!"
"Hey, imagine: "We're very sorry teacher, here's and Xbox, please forgive us." Hahahah!"

Let us leave this merry lot and press on with the discussion. Throughout the course of the hour, small groups of students discussed among themselves and came up with a few more suspects, but none of the suspects came as strongly as Suspect01. However, due to the fickle nature of the teenage mind, the righteous desires of the class to uncover the culprit and bring him to light, soon dissipated, and was replaced by the equally righteous desire to find out what was for lunch. As they say in Melayu, "the heat of a chicken's droppings", meaning that dedication usually doesn't last for long. No joke. Most probably by next year, when school reopens, everyone would have forgotten all about the whole thing, and no one would even ask Suspect01 anything about the matter. But the important thing is this: It happened, and its not a small thing. We should remembr this incident in our hearts as a reminder that, there is nothing that humans will not do, no matter how vile or damaging. Also remember that your teachers care for you, and you should respect them in return. And so on and so forth.



Alias: Student17
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Description: A witness in this investigation. To protect his identity, I'm going to reveal as little about him as is possible. In fact, I've said too much already.

Alias: Student19
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Description: I don't know if you guys even bother to keep track of all these numbers, or whether you even read the descriptions of people, but you might remember Student19 getting a small mention in Part 2 of the story. He's the class assistant monitor who just so happened to be sitting next to me during the discussion. I decided to include him for, as they say, "the lulz".

Alias: Student21
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Description: Once again, included just for "the lulz". I'm sure 80% of the class would be able to identify him based on the situation I put him in during the investigation, and also from the description, but he's not a suspect and has nothing to worry about. Also, I hope he forgives me for calling him "rotund".

Alias: Boss
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Description: Boss is, basically, Student25 with his sleeves rolled up. The name is a lot cooler, and is easier to type than 'Student25'. I'm sure he doesn't mind me putting him in the role of a ruthless interrogator.

Alias: Suspect01
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Description: Currently a suspect in this investigation, which is a surprise, because he is the second last person I would have suspected. Since he doesn't often speak up in class and doesn't seem very interested in his studies, one would think he couldn't care less if the teachers were good ones or not. But there is a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing at him. Or whatever.

Alias: Sah
Age: I dunno, somewhere in his twenties.
Gender: Male
Description: Maybe I'm being unclear on what I mean by 'practical teacher'. Apparently, when people are on their way to becoming a school teacher, somewhere in the proccess they get sent to a seemingly random school, where they receive experience by teaching a few classes. Basically, they replace whatever teacher was teaching you before, and he tries out teaching for a few months, then they send him back to the University. So you see why its such a big deal that a salted and seasoned teacher like out Biology teacher would be compare to Sah. Of course, none of this is his fault in any way.


It is SO late right now. But then again, what's new?

Year End School Holidays have begun! This means that every student in Form 4 now gets two months off to play video games all day and obliterate everything they learned that year. Hip hip hoorah and all that.

We have come to the conclusion of the Classroom Scandal! Not much of a conclusion, I admit, but that's what life is like. It's very rarely exciting, especially when the aforementioned life takes place in a middle school full of boys. Out of the usual colorful middle-school-mix of Politics, Studies, and Romance, students in SMK St. George only get 2 out of 3. Believe me, the story would have been a lot more interesting if it had taken place in SMJK Hua Lian, or somewhere. Definitely not St. George's.

One important rule I've always held onto when writing is, if you enjoy writing it, then people will enjoy reading it. I think I must have read that somewhere. To that end, I dreaded the moment when I would have finally had to conclude the story, because as you can see, its not very much of an ending. But, thanks to some last minute inspiration, I was able to dramatize the story to such outrageous proportions, that I think I at least won't get egged for it.

Of course no one else thought of Student17's explanation as a "Witness Testimony", and of course "Boss" didn't shout "Hold it!" all the time, but I like it that way.

Want a quote? How's this?

"The best kind of video game is that needs batteries. You can only play it for so long before it makes you do a bit of exercise." ~Me, running out of inspiration.

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