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Personal History : Schooling

Posted in Blog, and Personal History

I finally got the transcript copies of all of my grade-schooling; Golden HS, in Jefferson County, was back within a day of ordering back in May, but all of the St Vrain Valley schools needed almost four months.

It’s interesting to read through all of the documents and look at the various poorly scanned photos of me during years I can no longer remember very well… But, I now have definitive dates and places with which to organize my childhood.

I entered the public school system on October 21st, 1974. The first ‘academic record card’ still shows my original name; William A. Hampton.

Kindergarten was at Spangler in 74-75. Spangler is still around, but is now a different school. When I went there, I lived on Emery Drive.

I was given a Metropolitan Readiness Test to see if I was done baking in preschool enough to be a real student… I scored a 98th percentile with a note that “Billy’s lettering is superior”.

First grade was at Lincoln Elementary in 75-76. This school was apparently turned into nothing but offices for the school district. When I went there, I lived on South Francis Street.

I was given a Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test for vocabulary and comprehension; 89 and 92 percentile scores showing a 2.6 and 2.8 grade level respectively.

Second grade was at Columbine Elementary in 76-77. This, as far as I can remember, was the old 1906 building on the east side of the property. Until I moved to Golden in 85, I lived on East 4th Avenue.

An interesting element of this school was its age; everything inside was incredibly well worn wood and iron, and it had a cool smell — like if history had a smell. And it was always dark and cave-like inside… And it had these cool external fire escape slides that were basically big metal tubes that we slid down during fire drills (and got insanely hot during the summer — like grill your backside hot).

I was given a Stanford Achievement Test in April of 1977, and tested out at average of a 3.9 grade level.

Third grade took place at Rocky Mountain Elementary in 77-78. I’m not sure why I spent one school year here and then went back to Columbine… I think they were closing the 1906 building and the newer building wasn’t ready yet — or something.

According to my ‘standard test tapes’ folder, I was given Stanford Achievement exams in the third grade. The first one was in April of 1978, and I tested out at an average of a 5.3 grade level.

I was then given a Slosson Intelligence Test on May 5th, 1978, and I tested at 178. My parents and teachers always told me I was “gifted” or “a really smart kid”, but would never disclose the actual scores; so this is an interesting find for me.

Following the IQ test I was given another test, but this one just has a greek psi symbol and my name. On this one there are half as many categories and they are hard to read in the bad photocopy, but I scored between a 5.3 and an 11.5 in grade equivalency for each column.

This explains a bit for me…

I never did well in school after the 5th grade — it bored me to death and I was always too busy figuring out something esoteric or living in my imagination to be bothered with mundane things like homework. Every school I attended I spent more time in the library than with other kids, and as one can imagine this didn’t lead to a lot of socializing.

Fourth through sixth grade was back at Columbine Elementary in 78-79, 79-80, 80-81. These years were in the newer building just west of the 1909 building.

The summer of my 4th grade year I attended a ‘gifted and talented’ summer school program. I recall it being fun, but not as fun as doing my own thing — so I didn’t do very well with it.

I can now see that my grades were exemplary up to the 5th grade — which is about the time I started to really ‘rebel’ against school. After the 5th grade I managed to pull out just enough of a grade to move to the next year of school, but nothing more.

I was given a “Slingerland Screening Test” in 5th grade, which I essentially aced getting 120 of the 124 samples correct…

I was given a “reading instructional test” in 6th grade, on February 9th, 1981. I scored at a 11th grade level, or 99’s in 4 of 6 categories with a low score of 62.3 in ‘skimming & scan’. I attribute this to all of the reading I did… I positively devoured books on whatever had my interest that week.

Seventh grade was at North East Junior High in 81-82. This school has changed names and roles several times since the 80’s.

I recall that this school had an interesting setup; it was basically one huge room gridded off with tracks for the movable floor-to-ceiling walls. Said walls were kind of like cubical walls in that they were fabric covered and about two inches thick. This allowed class rooms to expand and contract as needed.

One interesting element of the curriculum was a 30 minute period each day called “Sustained Silent Reading” or SSR — we called it “Sit down, Shut up, and Read” — but it was an open reading session and you could read any book you wanted… I consumed all of the Xanth novels up to that point, as well as Chalker’s “Well of Souls” series that year.

This was the year that I really got into computers, and was spending incredible amounts of time working with various programming languages and hardware interfaces — which made me a bit of a social pariah at school.

My lack of social skills really became apparent in junior high, and while I only remember a couple of fights, there’s a note here from the school councilor in 81; “Bill is frequently targeted and ‘beat up’ by classmates on the way to & from school. Bill seems to have much difficulty getting along with his peers. –KS”

The perils of being a nerd in the early 80’s…

Eighth grade was half at North East Junior High and the other half at Faith Baptist for the 82-83 school year.

I recall that the goal with this school move was for the corporal punishment they could visit on students. My mother later apologized for this.

My parents assumption was that my poor grades and rebellious nature were do to a lack of structure and the schools being ‘too soft on me’… Clearly the solution was to put me in a baptist school where the curriculum was 2-3 years behind what was already boring me into skipping school and spending my days at the Longmont public library…

I remember bringing my ZX-81 and a monitor to this school for a presentation, and how it positively blew everyone’s mind… I did get to read “Red Badge of Courage” and “Pilgrim’s Progress” for a grade though — and got a good grade in that class.

Ninth grade was back at North East Junior High in 83-84.

I was given a CTBS test on August of 1983 and my average NP (national percentile) across all of the categories was 74… Not bad considering I’d stopped putting any effort into my classes years ago…

Tenth grade was at Skyline High School in 84-85.

Skyline was brand new and actually had computer classes — which I enrolled in all of them they would give me. Skyline was also better geared for my approach to learning, and accordingly my attendance and grades went way up.

Of course this is precisely when I should be pulled out of school and moved across the state…

Eleventh grade was split between Skyline and Golden High School for 85-86. This was when I moved to East Street in Golden.

My student transfer documents from Skyline show my A’s in Basic Computers, US History, CP Biology, Business Computers, and Self Study… The only A’s I’d had on a report card since 5th grade.

Golden High School broke that, and at this point I was totally done with school… I’d been shuffled around for years, grumped at for my grades and attendance, and when I finally find a reason to do the school thing — I’m shuffled around again…

I dropped out of Golden H.S. after the holiday break, got my GED, and got a waver from my parents because I was only 17 so that I could sign up for the Navy on July first 86.