A Social Sudies Class to Remember

Lily L.

It was exactly 1:00 on a regular Monday when I walked into Social Studies with Mr. Henry. He was not a tall man, but rather thin with a defined face. He was one of my most favorite teachers because he was always full of energy and excited to teach. I always wanted to impress him because I wanted him to think I was special too. Walking into his class in the afternoon, I always smiled because I knew that even if the rest of the day had turned out to be horrible, his class was like finding a port in a rough storm. The class always made for a good time but was never incredibly exciting. We sat down in our assigned seating arrangement, all in rows facing towards the front of the room. 

Mr. Henry started the class by explaining what we were going to be doing. We were in the middle of learning about the Civil War, and I found the topic to be very interesting. I loved learning about other people’s opinions and understanding differing perspectives. The Civil War was very important because it shaped what today looks like, without slaves, with West Virginia and Virginia split apart, but with the United States still united. “Today we will be reading out of the textbook.” I noticed that he paused for a second, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath before continuing, “Take notes on pages 71-77. You can work with the people around you.” 

Then he stumbled towards his chair and sat down. I was concerned, so I watched for a little bit before opening my book and taking notes. Written on page 71 in bold letters was “Gettysburg Address”. I began taking notes about President Lincoln, but while I was writing, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and looked into my best friend’s face. Her name was Diana, and she had dark brown eyes encased by other beautiful facial features. She started asking me questions about the passage, and soon enough everyone was talking – at first about Social Studies, and then about other things. Mr. Henry stood up then paused as if having a head rush, then proceeded to the middle of the room where he told us all to be quiet. He stood there awhile to make sure we remained silent, and I saw him stumble back to the table behind him. Then in one fluid motion, Mr. Henry melted to the floor. 

For the next few seconds, time slowed down. Everyone was so shocked. One girl let out a high-pitched scream; it sounded the way everyone felt: complete panic. I was the first to blow past the shock. I jumped up and knelt to the floor beside Mr. Henry’s limp body while others stood still with their eyes wide open and jaws on the floor. Nothing like this had ever happened. He was crumpled onto his side. I reached out to roll him over to his back but paused. I realized I’d never actually touched him before. I took a deep breath and grabbed his shoulders so he was flat on his back. I hoped that this would wake him up, but it didn’t.

Classmates were beginning to crowd around and watch me work. Evidently, I was the only one who knew what to do. “Someone get a glass of water; he is probably dehydrated,” I ordered, “and someone else, go tell the principal.”

Working fast, I checked his pulse. I walked my fingers around on his neck until I finally found the familiar throbbing, thump thump, thump thump. “He has a pulse!” I cried out. A wave of calm rushed over me for the first time since the entire mishap began. Mr. Henry was going to be okay. 

Next, I moved to the lower part of his body where I stood up and grabbed his legs. Hoping to get some blood flow to the brain, I lifted them into the air without his back leaving the ground. He didn’t wake up. I waited patiently as the color drained from his legs leaving them pale, and turning his face cherry tomato red. 

I put his legs down. Mr. Henry opened one eye, then the other. He had a blank expression, trying to figure out why he was on the floor looking up at his students. People were clapping and cheering. “Stay on the ground, Mr. Henry,” I said softly, kneeling down beside his head. “Water is coming.”

Soon the student who went to get the water came back. I could see his relief too when he saw Mr. Henry awake. I handed Mr. Henry the cup. He slowly sat up, scared he might fall back down again and humiliate himself. “How are you?” I asked as he drank.  

For the first time, he looked up to me, instead of me looking up to him. “Better now,” he answered. The moment was cut short when a teacher from across the hall came over. When she saw us all on the floor, she just stood there. The principal walked in behind her and also tried to comprehend the scene. “It’s okay,” I told them. “He’s okay.”

Mr. Henry slowly got up by himself, refusing to any help in an attempt to feel less helpless. “Of course, you’ll go home now, James,” the principal addressed him.

“No, I’m okay,” he replied. 

“You obviously need some time to yourself now to destress,” she tried to persuade him. “Come along. Mrs. Lytel will drive you home.” 

Mr. Henry was unwillingly escorted out of the room. Our class and Mrs. Lytel’s joined, and the principal supervised us, but the school day wasn’t the same without Mr. Henry in it. 

The next day at school, Mr. Henry had been allowed back. I walked in the room to unpack along with the rest of the class. It was made clear that everyone was glad to see Mr. Henry, and after all the hugs and whoops of joy were over, Mr. Henry pulled me aside. “Hey, I heard you pretty much saved my life yesterday.”

I looked at the floor, and then into Mr. Henry’s dark blue eyes. “I’m just glad I knew what to do and that you woke up,” I replied. 

“Thank you,” he said.

I smiled.

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