A fellow grammar geek, professional writer, and dear friend excitedly announced this week that he’d purchased “Grammar by Diagram,” by Cindy L. Vitto, and discovered a new rule governing comma usage.
“It’s amazing what I don’t know,” he wrote. “I keep wondering what I was doing when this was covered in high school English.”
And thus began my own reminiscence: what had I been doing? Well, at age 14, I couldn’t imagine anything duller than sentence diagramming – and especially by that fossil of a grammar instructor, Miss Hatscher, who must have been at least 35. It was unbearable. I never did learn to diagram a sentence, though I did manage to slip under the radar and pass the class.
Flash forward to College Prep three years later, with Mrs. Graham (Ph.D. and College Board advisor) at the helm. After a year of explicating poetry together, Mrs. Graham must have felt she knew her 92 seniors pretty well, for, as her “graduation gift,” she handwrote a list of 10-year predictions for each of us (and yes, I kept the list). Here are a few:
10. Professor of Philosophy at Harvard College, Ms. C. is also becoming known as a successful diplomat. Ever self-possessed, she greets friends and enemies with a disarming smile.
25. Proprietress of the most fashionable bookstore in Paris, Ms. F has done much for the American image in France by her scholarship, elegance, and taste.
36. Beautiful, brainy L. now runs a model agency, primarily for children, whom she manages with calm and poise.
57. An eminently successful therapist, Dr. M is noted for her innovative methods to rehabilitate the handicapped through music.
Here’s what the good doctor foresaw in my future:
69. Shampoo girl in Elizabeth Arden’s Beauty Salon. “I’ve always loved to comb, brush, arrange, and play with my own hair, so I’m happy here.”
I’d felt pretty bad, of course, but I know now that Mrs. Graham was an equal opportunity bully:
59. Veterinarian specializing in ovine, porcine, and canine pets, most of whose owners’ appointments he neglects to honor.
87. Aging drum majorette, Ms. W. whispers in embarrassment, “Every time I start a real job, I’m called back to lead the parade.”
92. Both hands full of bridge mix, Ms. Z. accomplished the impossible – played a Bach Fugue! Much impressed, we asked her technique, but too late; she’d started eating.
Good teachers, bad students? Or bad teachers, good students? I often wonder.
That Miss Hatscher could (somewhat successfully) teach grammar to unappreciative kids, day after day, year after year, probably made her feel like a hero. And I’m sure Mrs. Graham was pretty self-satisfied, too, with her 92 keen predictions. I know I was thrilled to graduate and get out of there!
Scholar’s Secret gives high school students the boost they need to go beyond graduation and truly excel at college… and we do it without being boring or mean – we promise! Contact us anytime!