Throwback Thursday Fiction: Demonstrating Academic Excellence

“Expect and Demonstrate Excellence Every Day.” The banner hanging over the walkway to her high school’s main building made Skylar’s stomach growl. “I’m never skipping lunch to finish a paper ever again,” she groaned as she held her stomach. “Procrastination will be my downfall.” Skylar fell to the bench closest to her, unable to move any further. She felt weak to her core. It was exactly 4:27pm. The afterschool test review session for Calculus marked an end to an extremely long day. Not only did she skip lunch to finish an English paper, but she also skipped breakfast to edit the PowerPoint for her history presentation on the Abyssinian Crisis. Her stomach hadn’t received anything fulfilling since she had baked spaghetti for dinner the night before.

The thought of skipping a meal to do school work would have been preposterous a year ago. At her old high school, she was known for slacking in class, half-assing homework assignments, and bringing in a bag full of snacks to class every day. However, ever since transferring to Hines High, one of the most prestigious high schools in the state, she felt the desire to be great. She wanted to be better than those stuck up Hines students who raised their hands in class before the teacher could finish her question, who used SAT words they couldn’t even spell just to sound smart, who were college bound to either Duke or Chapel Hill, who walked down the halls with book bags so full of books that they were twice the size of the students wearing them, and literally took ten minutes to zip up. Skylar knew she was smarter than those students. She strove for perfection in everything she did. Her paper might have been completed at the last minute, but she was confident it was a solid A plus. She was the only student in her history class who received a standing ovation from her teacher after her presentation, and she knew she had that Calculus exam in the bag tomorrow.

“I hope you’re happy!” She yelled at the all watching banner, holding up her fist. “I gave up food just to ‘demonstrate excellence,’ ” she mumbled using air quotations. Just as she lowered her fist, two students emerged from the doors of the main building, walking underneath the banner. One had his head hidden behind an open chemistry book. It was a wonder he didn’t stumble into anything. The other was flipping through a test with very little markings on it, smiling from ear to ear. Apparently she had received an A. Skylar’s stomach gave a low rumble. “Grrr, I need to eat something!” And with that, she stood up, grabbed her exceedingly heavy book bag and walked to her car in the parking lot. She was late for a date with a Big Mac.

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