The Case of the Plagued Play
Mrs. Gordon walked between the desks of her students, passing back their graded assignments. When she got to Theo’s desk, she paused.
She’d been teaching eighth-grade English at Woodlands Junior High School for sixteen years, and Theo’s assignment was one of the finest pieces of student writing she’d ever seen. It had been a pleasure to read.
“Great job, Theo,” she said, handing him the thick bundle of stapled pages. “You must have worked really hard on this.”
“Thanks,” Theo murmured. He looked at the grade Mrs. Gordon had written on the front page: A+!
Theo sat staring at the paper, looking slightly stunned.
Mark, the student sitting next to Theo, sneaked a glance at Theo’s grade. When he saw the A+, he frowned. Mark had been really proud of the A he’d gotten—until he saw Theo’s A+. Now he just felt envious.
He was about to feel even more envious.
After she’d returned the last graded paper, Mrs. Gordon made her way back to her desk at the front of the class. “I was really pleased with how each of you handled this long-term assignment,” she said. “It’s not easy writing a full-length play, but you did quite well. Very impressive.”
The students smiled, proud of themselves. Mrs. Gordon was notorious for being a tough grader, so it was unusual for her to talk so positively about their homework.
“In fact,” she continued, “you’ve done so well that Miss Farrell and I have a surprise for you.” Miss Farrell was the other eighth-grade English teacher at their Nevada junior high school. She’d assigned her class to write plays too.
Mrs. Gordon smiled. “One of your plays is going
to receive a full-scale production right here at Woodlands Junior High. It’ll be this year’s school play!”
The students looked excited. They’d never heard of a play written by a student being chosen as the school play.
Each student secretly wondered and hoped, Did they pick my play?
A girl named Chelsea raised her hand. “Yes, Chelsea?” Mrs. Gordon asked, calling on her.
“Have you and Miss Farrell already picked which play is going to be put on?” Chelsea asked, bouncing her knee and tapping her desk with a pencil.
Mrs. Gordon nodded. “Yes, we have,” she said. “We were in complete agreement.”
She paused, keeping her students in suspense. She wished the whole class would pay such close attention every day.
“Whose is it?” Chelsea asked, unable to bear the tension any longer.
“Theo’s,” Mrs. Gordon announced. “Woodlands Junior High will be putting on Theo’s play, Nobody’s Home.”
Every student’s head turned toward Theo. He
looked down at his script, embarrassed by all the attention.
“Way to go, Theo!” said a friendly kid named Sam. “Awesome!” He started applauding, and the others joined in. Except for Mark.
Mrs. Gordon held up her hands to stop their applause and regain their attention. “I’ll be directing the play myself,” she said. “Auditions will be next week, and I encourage all of you to try out. You don’t need to have acted before. I think Theo’s play is going to be a lot of fun!”
The kids in the class whispered and chattered. Everyone was excited by Mrs. Gordon’s surprising announcement.
Except for Theo and Mark. They didn’t look excited at all.