odd things you did in school

Did anyone else have strange customs / practices that only the kids in your school did?

I can think of two from my school days.

First, in the elementary school that I attended for gym class, we sometimes played with a very large parachute. I have no idea why we did this, but all of the students would form a large circle around the parachute that took up most of the gym floor. Then we would grasp it with our hands, lift the parachute over our heads, and then when the teacher told us to, we would all run into the center. The parachute would then cause a strong up draft over our head and I remember it was strong enough to make the girls’ hair stand straight up. Again, I have no idea why we did this but I sure remember it being a lot of fun.

Fast forward to my high school gym class. I always signed up for weight training and Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were always our heavy lifting days. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we would go outside and run if the weather permitted, or if we stayed inside, we would sometimes run steps or do light lifting. Occasionally though, we would play “mat ball.”

On these days, all of the equipment was put aside and wrestling mats were placed on the floor. The class was divided into two teams and everyone on each team was assigned a number. The teacher then stood in the center of the classroom, and rolled a ball down to the opposite side of the room. He then would bark out several numbers, say, “Three, Six, Ten, and Eleven!” The students from each team who had those numbers then would “run” out on their hands and knees and try to get the ball and then place it in front of the designated goal area which was the spot in front of the teacher’s feet. As you were trying to retrieve the ball, students on the other team who had those same numbers would wrestle you down and physically try to remove the ball from who ever had it. Naturally, you could pass the ball to another teammate, also if you could drag an opponent to your teammates on the side line, they were permitted to hold that kid down, prevent him from entering the playing field and give him a mild thrashing as well. At times, the teacher would call out all of the odd numbers in which case a wild battle royal / melee ensued.

Some of my classmates despised this game but I always found it to be somewhat fun.

Anyone else have odd customs that may have been unique to your school?

I’ve actually done both those. But when we did the parachute thing in grade school, the teacher would put a punch of nerf balls on it, and we’d just throw them around with the parachute.

And when I was a wrestler, we would play Mat Ball sometimes when everyone was sore, which was an excuse to not wrestle, but play Mat Ball instead. But our coach would turn the lights out sometimes, so you didn’t even know who you were wrestling. It was basically organized ‘Smear the Queer’.

I too remember the parachute thing in grade school. We also had a giant bouncing ball that the teacher made us roll over. We’d run to the ball, jump on top of it and he would roll it over and we’d have to do a somersault onto a mat. I never understood that one.

The one thing I remember about high school gym was square dancing. What the hell was that for!

Ahhh Grasshopper, the teachers were working on your motor skills without you even realizing it. I wondered about the parachute as well. My son’s school uses one as does his music therapist and he loves it. Both explained to me that it enhances both the fine and gross motor skills.

The gym teacher at our school uses the parachute thingy with the kids, and I’ve seen it in a lot of schools.

I don’t remember much about phys. ed. in elementary school, but I do remember that I would often forget to bring that li’l doily we had to wear on our heads for Mass on Friday. (This was early in elementary school; I really am not that old.) :wink: Anyway, when I’d forget it, the nun would bobby pin a Kleenex on my head. If God hadn’t have invented Kleenex, I might be on my way to Hell. I must have been quite a sight with that Kleenex and my red plaid skirt rolled up at the waist! We sacrificed our trim waistlines so we could show a little leg.

Oh, and phys. ed. in high school wasn’t very memorable. I do remember skipping it almost every day of my sophomore year though. How I was able to do that without my parents finding out, I’ll never know. Eventually, they did find out, because I had to go to summer school and play tennis.

Oh oh oh! I have one more phys. ed. story! In junior high, I got my ear pierced in the locker room… with an ice cube and one of those old “self piercers.” I sported only one pierced ear for quite some time, and it wasn’t a stylish thing back then.

(Hmmm… not one thing I’ve mentioned can be classified as a “ritual.” Sorry about that, but reminiscing was fun.)

There was this one time…
in band camp…

Count me in on the whole parachute thing. That was fun, especially when we put some of the dodgeballs in the center and sent those puppies flying. Also in elementary school, we played “crab soccer,” where we all sat in a circle, and to kick this massive (we’re talking 4’ diameter if not larger) soccer ball, you had to attack it leaning backwards and doing a reverse crawl-type thing. Ecch.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyways, at band camp my freshman year, we did "So-wa"s. This consisted of us converging on the basketball court at sunrise, bowing to the sun, and asking it for good weather for marching that day. This happened every day for a week.

We did the parachute thing and square dancing.But we didn’t square dance in high school!
It was weird in 4th grade,I can only imagine how awkward it must have been for kids going through puberty!

We definitely did the parachute thing, although I’d forgotten it until you brought it up.

My 4th grade class all had to choreograph and dance disco routines for PE, with members of the opposite sex, no less. (I guess this would have been in 1978 or so).

We had cotillion in junior high - basically about six weeks of assorted dance lessons. I was permanently emotionally scarred by my parents’ volunteering as chaperones. In particular, I still have not forgotten the sight of my father on square dance night, standing around in a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat, clapping and tapping his foot, off time.

Our sixth grade class went to “camp” for a week. One of the activities while you were there was the opportunity to join the “kiss a banana slug club,” about which the less said the better.

During homecoming week at my high school, we had an event they called the “Rowdy-O”. Lots of odd competitions, designed for some healthy inter-class rivalry. Usually, it was just a little lunchtime deal, but when I was a freshman, they actually devoted an entire day to it, dividing each class into a Blue Team and a White Team. Man, that was fun. Moment of pride: I was the anchor for the Freshman Blue Team in the tug-of-war against the Senior White Team for the championship. We won.

Also, the time I came to school on Halloween dressed as a hedge comes to mind (just a few branches and leaves, coupled with a shirt that said “I am a HEDGE”). My friend Victor had come in Army camouflage, and he kept hiding behind me. There’s a picture of it in the yearbook, but, sadly, I have no scanner.

I also remember the parachute thing now that you mention it, but I can’t believe I had forgotten all about square dancing. I never understood that either. I’m proud to say I’ve haven’t do-si-do’ed since.

We did square dancing and the parachute bit as well, and I’ve since been involved in the teaching end of it . . . with 5-year-olds. You do not want to run into the parachute (as in hit yourself in the head/eyes on it).

We also played something called “scooter basketball” which was basically us on wooden thingies with wheels on them, probably designed to make our 5’2" gym teacher feel taller. Not a fun thing, esp. because one had to dribble backwards.

I’m surprised nobody has yet mentioned dodgeball. Ooh boy, did we play a lot of that. Lot of dodgeball.

You touched another boy didn’t you?

… I took my flute and I…

Here in the big city we had no parachutes, and frankly I don’t feel deprived.

My HS did have a couple of practices that, if not unique, were probably local. One was called SING. I know other NYC schools did this, but I’ve never heard of it being done elsewhere. SING was an annual musical-theater competition between the grades. There were three teams: Frosh+Soph, Juniors and Seniors. Each team wrote and performed an ORIGINAL musical comedy (familiar tunes were permitted as long as the lyrics were original). Judges scored the performances and crowned the winning team. (I think there was even a horrible movie made about a HS SING competition – sort of a bad “Fame” copycat.)

We also had Mini-Courses, where for 2 or 3 days a year the kids (and teachers if they wanted) taught unusual, nonacademic classes. One Science teacher taught Bluegrass Music, his hobby; a student taught Frisbee technique.

I once talked to Paul Reiser, of “Mad About You” fame, who graduated the school the year before I entered. He told me that he and a friend had taught a Stand-Up Comedy Mini-Course when they were seniors. I was impressed. He said, “Don’t be. It was basically just a bunch of us kids in a classroom with a phonograph listening to my George Carlin and Woody Allen LPs.”

Yepper on the square dancing and dodge ball. ::shudders::

One of the gym teachers, an evil bitch who doubtless trained in the female auxillary of the Hitler Youth, would make us play dodge ball with a medicine ball if she got pissed off at us. (She never followed through with her threat to make us use it for volleyball, though.)

If a teacher tried that crap now the lawsuits for strains and jammed fingers would make headlines. Grrrr.

Truly weird event: Cotton Day. No idea of the genesis for that one. It was always held in spring, everyone would wear their best clothes and cheapie carnations were sold for students to give to one another.

Of course the “in crowd” soon looked like parade floats, but friends gave the flowers to other friends, so most people had a least a few poisonous blue, pink or white carnations to tote around.

Looking back, I strongly suspect the school used it to raise money. Since I hated that high school with a passion, wished it razed and the ground strewn with salt, it’s amazing it never occured to me to wear rags and carry thistles and skunk cabbage.


In elementary we played a very redneck version of dodgeball. The gym teacher would take about 10 pieces of paper and crumple them to form balls. Then she wrapped each paper ball with masking tape until it was about the size of a softball. Then she would divide the class into 2 teams, and we would throw the balls back and forth. It hurt like hell when one of those things hit you.

“Lifeguard” with the parachutes. Two “sharks” underneath, two “lifeguards” wandering around outside the circle. The rest of the class sat in a circle shaking that thing like mad. If a shark grabs your ankles, you scream “HELP” and the lifeguard has to save you. If they don’t, you become a shark.

Trench ball. Four square. (Not unusual, I’m sure, but didn’t we all love that game?) Dodge ball. (Of course.) Square dancing. Line dancing.

In elementary near Halloween, we always had a costume parade in the gym. After that, we’d go trick or treating in the high school wing. In fourth grade I dressed as the devil, complete with tail, pitchfork, horns, and red face paint, and got sent home before school even started. No trick or treating at the high school for me. :frowning: Bastards. I still have bitter feelings over that.

Silver, I’m with you. Bastards. Don’t they realize how much crap like that embitters kids? Bastards.

Vollyball with a medicine ball was a favorite sport of an American Prez. Of course I can’t remember who it was.MTS