An average foreign student discovers himself in the midst of a change rapidly traveling across the Globe on Sep. 11th 2001. The reaction begins take the form of a calling from developing from deep within fueling the participation in the re-enactment of a famous trial that changed the course of History in America in 1925. The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, the Monkey Trial.
Michael Sheppard, just beginning his Junior year of High school possessing no aspirations or expectations from life, or academics pursuits, finds himself changing uncontrollably before his very own eyes. What seemed just like another regular Monday morning walking casually to the school entrance as usual takes a turn that forges a new path. Beginning of the journey takes place one week after the 911 attacks on our capital. An unforeseen encounter outside the gates of school that morning cultivates a catalyst laying the foundation for a new style of communication. For the first time a moment of un-controllable burst of inspiration synergizes an output of sincerity in front of his peers and academic staff.
Based on the true story of Alex Christmas, (Craciun), that sparked a fire of wonder and became a spectacle reaching the magnitude of an entire high school in Bellevue, WA. The start of Junior year in High School one week after the 911 attack on our Capital becomes the defining moment of set Journey continuing a Journey that was already unfolding across the world. In a world surrounded from the media and events eventually circumventing into the “dimension” we all known “High School”. The Place where all the stereotypical clicks and crews that we all experiences and share the similarities on some level regardless of gender, race or origin. The place where growth and achievement is everyone’s true desire.
The Story brings a nuance of High school life from the eyes of a foreign student that sees the world though a different set of lenses. Everything is a challenge until the challenge becomes the only factor of desire. The “Come Together” of students, teachers and a Scientist that volunteers for the project unveils the “Orchestrated Preparation” for a 5 day trial. Over 30 students prepare for 4 weeks in a newly found passion of academic achievement that was sure to deliver everyone’s taste buds. Definitive chain reaction echoes though the halls of the school, outside the classroom and campus, about a project of astute significance that captured America in 1925. As the day approaches the same reaction builds the walls of Interlake, Home of The saints, symbiotically creating a”BUZ” like relevance as the actual event taking place back in time. A parallel of knowledge versus wisdom ascertains attention from all corners and parallels roaming through the minds of kids adding to mother consciousness transcending a fight upon humanity since its inception.
Poverty and language barrier are oppressing the main character deep down as they are always constant reminders daily as he travels back and forth from school. However they become invisible in not play any significant part leading to the desire of achievement. Different elements of personalities and parenting become chaos of a melting pot stocking hidden opinions and judgements that clouds the minds of students and faculty as things unfold. The world is a dark place outside the walls of the school resulting from the most tragic event to hit our nation. The walls inside the school become a barrier in different ways for everyone from Jocks to Geeks in an attempt to make sense of the world outside. To know the real threat of danger to our nation from the minds of kids experiencing the events unfolding on the media. Is everything close or far? Seattle, WA or Washington DC? So far in distance, yet so close in our pouring empathy and desire for justice. A foreigner joins this antagonist force of the world unprovoked and unaware! Just a simple spark, leading the way, out of nowhere with blinders on overcomes life at school, at home, in front of the TV and in the classroom.
The Heroes and the Twist
An entire classroom becomes indulged in changing the world by engulfing themselves into a battle that was lost already. However today this lost battle could have prevented the world outside. Somehow that begins to weigh on everyone’s hearts and mind. A culture of Discernment in the form of balancing differences begins to fills the classroom walls bringing togetherness in students as they collectively decide to give it their all in pursuit of this project. As each student goes above the call of duty another one follows until a true trial forms that is no longer a school project but the actual battle of the context.
Opening Scene 7:25AM Monday Sep. 17th 2001 (6 days after attack on US Soil)
Michael Sheppard is walking to towards the high school entrance from a little more than half mile away leaving the parking area where he parks his red van, Chevy Astro. Usually everything is the same, the walk always carries the nuance of a boring mundane life. Just another day of “Cant wait to come back to the car and go home!” Except this time something is different. Encompassing the main flag in front of the entrance is a big circle like figure and lots of students holding hands with a teacher. Some weird teacher he never paid attention to or ever had classes with. Lots of talking from the distance gets louder and it becomes clear it is something that is definitely out of the ordinary. As main character approaches, the mundane attention to life that he usually posseses during this walk is getting more and more profound as the face changes in intrigue. As though today something new is making a change, or perhaps just another weird American thing. That “American Thing” is Michaels favorite study subject as he just wants to be the same as everyone else. Have a voice not just a face and a social status labeled every minute in school. Not to mention sometimes different in favorite classes but overall the same! Unpopular , kind of Cool, or weird Romanian or Russian guy that is Anti Social.”
Today is a different kind of day!
Synopsis: Michael walks to the gathering outside the school courtyard to find a teacher he never regarded as any good at anything holding hands with over 30 students. All grades and genders and they are all taking turns praying over September 11. As he passes by the teacher’s peripheral vision captures Michael’s interest in the scenario and invites Michael to join in prayer for the departed Souls of 911. Michael, intrigued to see popular kids and non-popular kids, all shapes and sizes taking turns praying out loud whatever they choose to say and everyone rewarding the person praying with motivational remarks. Wanting to do something daring he joins opposite form the teacher and the students open their arms and let him in. Today is definitely different for at least 10 students take turns speaking. The first bell period rings and nobody is eager to make it to class. Teacher makes a remark everyone will be excused from being late today. As Michael takes note of this he decides he wants to say something out loud. But something he contemplated when he first saw the event on TV, as his foreigner mother overreacted as usually with her communist mentality that the world is going to be doom from now on.
He starts to really focus on the feeling he had for those words, but these were words and thoughts that never came to life out loud. An opinion or a judgement that had deep core integration, but not something often discussed or used in conversation.
Moment of truth approaches and he gets put to the test to speak or not as the teacher asks any one else want to pray. He has 1000 thoughts rush through his mind to not say anything at all but before he knows it his mouth begins speaking and he can’t believe his own years. He sounds like every kid that went before. Same format starting with “Dear Lord we come today to you to Pray” It gets better and better, more articulate and as though dictated from a mind that was just a fraction of second slower and had the ability to hear and see the effect of the words almost before they were released. An internal struggle to hold back or not to hold back on his deep down ending note that he knew he was going to get to. It was the only reason he decided to speak in the first place.
As the moment of the final true core belief statement approaches he sees that students started opening their eyes and stared straight at his face as the looked down in the midst of the circle into a bliss. Everyone almost had eyes on him. Their thoughts might have been ranging from anywhere from “Wow, I didn’t know he is Christian, to I didn’t know he can speak English that well” But the one that he felt everyone think was “Wow, for an awkward dude I never pay attention to he makes a lot of sense today in front of everyone here today! Maybe hes a regular student who I never paid attention to but I will from this moment on” Michael felt this, and he didn’t realize it until later in life that all these thoughts were reactions to people’s actual thoughts. He didn’t know he had anything new or good to offer, not to mention having any gifts at all.
He just knew he was very, very smart in math but it never did him any good. In fact he acted dumber on purpose so he can blend in and not create any more weirdness around his peers. This mainly due in part to the fact that last year he took a math test where the last 3 questions were extra credit and he got them all correct. Nobody else in class did and so the teacher thought he had cheated and it turned into a big ordeal all the way to the principle. The whole time thinking to himself “What is wrong with these people? How can they not believe me I didn’t cheat? I simply used a different formula that I learned in 5th grade in Romania called the “Rule of 3 Simple” and because they were easy and got a lot of points it meant he can do less homework to get a C average in the class! Main objective!” As Michael did not apply himself over satisfactory status, he was just studying the people, teachers and this HIGH SCHOOL IN AMERICA thing. The test and the 3 questions ended up being such a big deal that a few days later after being accused for cheating and getting an F on the test all together he finally had the courage to confront the teacher and say something about it. The teacher was very direct and to the point as to why I cheated.
Mrs. Bateman: Michael, come one now, its obvious you cheated. You got the extra credit questions right but you messed 7 questions on the easy part of the test that you should have gotten right if you got the last ones right. The 3 extra credit questions are from the IB Calculus class and there is no way you could have solved those ones on your own without cheating”
Michael: I am sorry Mrs. Bateman but I did not cheat. I even showed my work on the test of how I got my answer. I did not cheat! The other questions I didn’t understand because I don’t do the homework..
She was getting frustrated but little bit more professional. I could tell by the fact that she asked me what country I was from again. So I know she would assimilate something of value soon, but she was making me distraught on a level I had never been before. I had never been accused of cheating or actually cheated on anything ever.
Mrs. Bateman: So you did not cheat but you got the answers correctly?
Michael: Yes, I even showed my work. Look! (as I ruffled through the pages of the test trying to get there.
Mrs. Bateman: Well this is not how you show your work on these equations so its not true Michael, why do you bring this to me now and not when you got your test result back?
Michael: What do you mean? That is what I am doing!
Mrs. Bateman: I mean the day I passed back the graded tests. Why did you wait 3 days?
At this point Michael could not answer her in a truth context, because the reason was because he made friends with the weird kid in class that also got an F on the test. Sharing that failure with David sparked a conversation that had now been alive for 3 days. The first friend in math class, but also first friend at all really. A friend who took joy he was not the only failure in class and decided to befriend Michael. A foreign student with an accent. We ate lunch together that day because Michael told him jokingly “the teacher was stupid and the test was stupid”! “Look at my test, Michael pointed to his own test, she didn’t even grade mine because she thinks I cheated and gave me an automatic F! it’s not fair! But I don’t give a shit, she’s a stupid teacher!”
Michael clearly had no excuse. How was he to explain to Mrs. Bateman that the worse student in the class, David and socializing with him outside class was the reason. David, the student she just knew was probably failing in all his other classes so she made no effort to push him at all, or even be nice to him. David was just someone she was ignoring in the back left corner of the class every time he came to class. Put his head down on the desk and just took a nap. Michael didn’t have the depth of language to start a conversation like that. Or make a statement that “He was not interested in math but a friend, any friend!” He sensed that even trying to start the conversation in full sincerity this teacher had made her mind up. So he did the next logical thing he could think of. Something he was good at in Romania way before this country. Something called Math!
Michael: Mrs. Bateman look, here on the first question where I showed my work, I used the simple rule of 3 with inverted fractions searching for X without graphing the quadrant. It’s a formula way easier and I learned it in third grade in Romania. I am sure as a math teacher you can see and understand it. That’s why I used the same work on all 3 questions. I can use it on other equations if you want to. Give me other problems to solve and I can prove the rule of 3 simple can be applied more efficiently than the quadratic formula. The quadratic formula is way to complex for this simple problems. If you want you can ask Mr. Higgley about I am sure he knows it. I’ve talked to him about this formula to see what its called in English. He is really a math teacher but is teaching Weather Science here at Interlake because he likes it more, but he is a really smart math teacher.
This stumped her. Now all of the sudden I had mentioned something that probably no other student know or had the reason to know. Mr. Higgley was the ugliest man you’d ever seen. Late 40s from Utah, fat and full of huge pimples all over his face. Smelled like BO day in and day out and every day his shirt was covered in sweat lines around his armpits, neck and belly. Not to mention same shirt and same pants most of the time. You could tell when Mr. Higgley went to the laundry matt. A simple man really in every aspect. So repulsing after class from sweating out another hour teaching, you could tell he had no friends at all, not even in the faculty. Probably why he didn’t last long at that school with snobby teachers and students. Bellevue, a prestigious city promising young minds Microsoft like academic education you were sure to only get from Interlake, Home of the Saints. However from what was known among the faculty he was highly educated compared to his peers. Spent many years in College learning, however who ever values a degree from IOWA no matter how many years it took or what GPA one finished with. IOWA, something from the potato country RIGHT?
(Note to Self: Find out Mr. Higgley actual town of origin. Iowa or Utah)
However Something that came across really natural as an enigmatic teaching attitude, a sort of hidden beauty for those who loved to immerse in the academic teaching of a genius, Mr. Higgley was very animated while teaching. He spoke sometimes like Ron Howard from happy days telling a story of why learn something, gazing around the class deep inside each students eyes, then stare into oblivion continuing his teaching, then grabbing your eyes again by starring right at you. It was awkward for everyone in class the first few weeks until you dismissed him as a lunatic of some sort. First few days for all the students who got trapped into his gaze of thunder, including Michael, it felt like personal space of vision and thought process was invaded by ugly stupid man who just seemed ecstatic as a teacher because he was ugly and had low self-esteem. As though he was so ugly he had to try that hard to teach anyone anything because he had come to terms that was his life and his face. So after a while you just looked away and dismissed him quickly with no remorse. Like “Yup! Just look away for a few seconds” until he picks another student to do it to, then stare back at hot girl in class or out the window to see who’s walking by on a hall pass between periods and might be getting in trouble . He especially got super animated on subjects of particle charging, Doppler Radars, Atmospheric pressure changes, mud slides and hail storms. Mudslides and hail storms always got him going. Wasn’t too long before the popular kids in class figured out that if you throw him a bone or two when he’s animated and ask a question that insinuates caring for academic learning, he’ll sometimes ramble on through the bell and forget to hand out homework. That’s because our biology teacher Mr. Mark Emery was one of those teachers. The right question would set him up the whole period and even forget to give out tests he had promised the day before. So imagine how smart popular kids get and how they get more and more popular among the classmates. Sit there day in and day out and pay attention just enough to figure out how to one up the teacher because they care. Then its at least 30 minutes of conversation outside of class of “Dude so cool, he drooled when you asked him how the mudslide destroyed his hometown. Especially when you asked him to describe how he remembered it. This became the standard among these two teachers. Only difference was that Mr. Emery was a handsome slender teacher who was painting his house that summer coming and in his class it was the girls that played the part of “Lets make him ramble on so we can get through this period” and man do girls do a better job. He bought it every time because it was the “Strait A girls that did it every time”. The ones that are not too pretty or too ugly, not too popular or unpopular, just good grades in all the classes. Soon enough realizing they have so much work to keep up grades in other classes, Biology is worth farting around with if the teacher condones it. Why not right? It’s not like they knew better than the teacher. These girls were going home every day to do their homework! So if opportunity arises to feel morally acceptable and act interested in a side question that makes a teacher not act like any other teacher, meaning following a manual or a curriculum, and forget to hand out homework there can’t possibly be anything wrongdoing happening. More often than not classroom teaching material become just a few posed questions close enough to the printout we would find on the desks every day, and “POOF” the classroom went form 20 plus students to about 5 students. The rest of us just dosing off waiting for the bell to ring. So much so that even Adam, class jock got wind of how to spark this event. One time Adam asked an unrelated question about 6 pack abs when working class context focused on fruit flies experiments and gene graphing. One question perfectly timed turned a whole lesson from fruit flies flying around the classroom to pooping for the rest of class.
Student: Mr. Emery?
Mr. Emery: Yes Adam!
Adam: Isn’t biology and stuff also about the human body as well?
Mr. Emery: Yes it is very much so. Soon we will talk about chromosomes and DNA and well run diagrams to show how chromosomes take different genes from the gene pool.
Adam: Cool, you mean like eye color and stuff?
Mr. Emery: Not just that but height, muscle density, bone structure.
Adam: Muscles, is that like an athletic person inheriting athletic genes from their parents and grandparents?
Adam was a jock, but Mr. Emery took great joy in truing his class a welcome conversation for all social groups no matter how stupid it may sound in other classes. In his class you asked a question and he would always have a personality countenance answer with charisma that overcame any uncontrolled laughter from the audience. Soon making his class safe for anyone to say anything. It was his pride, truing Biology into English, speech and drama class all at once. No assigned seating or assigned desk placement just grab a desk a move it anywhere in the classroom. He never even took attendance.
Mr. Emery: Yes things like height, bone density from the gene pool dictate muscle density the chromosome will define for a value to our DNA makeup for optimal and peak performance.
Adam: So if everyone in your family has a 6 Pack that means you’ll have one too?
This is where Mr. Emery went AWOL for the next 37 min of class. Either because he looked over the classroom and realized there are some fat kids in the class and Adam was inconsiderate in his question or because its what he did. Whatever the reason the transition he would do at a time like this was seamless every time and guarantee to deliver. Always starting with a look around the classrooms through the upper part of his glasses, followed by some sort of academic laugh of inquisitive self-interest and contemplation, to walking back to his desk. That was the signal every time as Mr. Emery was a man that never thought from the teacher’s desk at all. He just grabbed a desk turned it around and sat upon it teaching. But walking back was a clear sign of complete change in dynamics.
Mr. Emery: Well Adam interesting fact about our Ab Muscles. Did you know that if it wasn’t for them we would actually not have our ass attached to our bodies at all. We would die because we would have no digestive system.
Half the class, and this meaning the half that was sleeping, “WOW MR. Emery you just said ASS in CLASS” and down the drain with fruit flies and any printed materials he would have prepared, or homework, or yesterday or tomorrow. It was just one question after the other in any direction until the bell rang. That was biology with Mr. Emery. Just wait for someone to get him off track somehow. Michael know Mr. Emery very well because he was one of the teachers he talked to on a regular basis. Being that Biology was the first class after lunch and it was a long, long way from the cafeteria, he would often finish lunch in class where Mr. Emery would always be usually with a couple of other foreign students “shooting the shit” sort of speak. Michael had started a paining company last summer and Mr. Emery was about to paint his house with his wife and Michael knew everything about the subject and felt privileged to be asked questions on a subject he knew lots about. From primer, paint, lead paint, taping, spraying, and trim, brush holding, plastic wrapping windows, and oil base paint for entry door, deck staining and more. He was probably as shocked that Michel knew all of this form only one summer of painting as Michael was about how many questions he would ask. Especially for someone that was a good few months from actual summer break. But little did Mr. Emery know that Michel was illegal in America and his mom was working for $3.25 an hour and it was a necessity to help out in the summer. Michael lived in an adult family home care, which was standard for Romanian immigrants in Seattle, WA where 70% of all such homes are owned by Romanians. Across the board with the same working mentality. Get a poor Romanian off the boat, put them in the house and have them sleep there and take care of the house night and day. If they have kids, even better, train them and make sure they don’t eat any of the food reserved for the patience. Mr. Emery didn’t know that Michael worked painting just so he can have his dream come true. Go to the store for a week straight and be able to afford as many strawberries as he wanted, because he was never allowed to take any and his family couldn’t afford to buy them all the time. In a house where you barely make enough money to survive most of your money is spent of things you feed to other people salivating to yourself in emptiness over and over again, on payday you spend money on things you salivated over the last two weeks as a family. Strawberries, the weird yellow melon thing, but the other green melon thing too that tastes different but almost the same, and those cool looking muffins they keep buying for the patients. Definitely one of those on payday. Everyone in the family looking over the shoulders of the other one at the store to see who craves what more and that person was elected team leader to lead us through grocery shopping at stores that never sold those muffins. Over 8 adult family homecare the last few years with every owner more strict or weird about electricity bills and water bills. One shower per day, take turns, turn off lights, dry the clothes on the hanger. All passing on communism suffering mentality in the form of belittlement with high condescending tone of “This is reality accept it.” All Romanians, our home patrons, cruel to your face alone, but pleasant every other time so much so you never knew or wanted to approach them with anything. Husbands and wives running a tight ship at every house, some houses the husband was the stingy one, some the wives, some a complete team of communist leaders running our family, the clients and the client’s family like a sweat shop with no idea to the general public. All of them separating in society among Romanian community into two sectors. Orthodox Christians and Pentecostals Christians. Something that is the same today, for almost all the Romanians were Orthodox when they left the country. With the exception of maybe 7 percent on average living in or emigrating from Romania. Something that is the same today as the country has remained overall 92 Percent Christian Orthodox. However in America these Romanians that were Protestant would offer you a whole package if you converted to their faith. Financial stability, friendship and community to grow in. A place where everyone called you “Brother” or “Sister” before saying your name. For someone Orthodox its like something out of a fanatic movie where all the idiots are all the actors. Something that feels as foreign as it feels fake to receive or try to pass on. Nonetheless a prominent outworked behavior among them in all aspects of their lives. From picking up their phone, to greeting at the local grocery store, to when they visit each other and every family member would great the same. Young kids to young kids, adult to kids, husbands of other women would great another woman as sister. After a while Michael would have to ask himself “WOW, maybe they are for real and they really believe?” However work for them a little time and you find out really quick it is like a program they put you though. You work for them 3 to 5 years for pennies on the dollar then they sell you their business for a good price and enough money from them to take a break then start over, while you find a poor Romanian soul to put through the regiment. But statistics sometimes don’t lie and the numbers showed that it was a great success in both growing the businesses fast and the Pentecostal community symbiotically. Thus in America the orthodox community or Romanians was the 20 percent. Nobody ever keeping track that they all sold out their religion from their home country to partake in this financial feast of success to follow. It was OK among them as long as they memorized every part of the Bible to take down an orthodox by pointing out key facts to make one contemplate long enough to plant a seed. “Thou shall not bow before wooden goods, Thou shall not worship icons”! So much of a shock for the average Romanian Orthodox to hear coming out of the mouth of another Orthodox you didn’t even want to defend yourself with things like “How about thou shall not Judge”!
So summertime was Michel’s chance to escape all of it and do something to help. First summer was paining.
One time he took a side tour from how the Doppler radar works to tell us how in Utah when he was our age softball size balls of hail came down our of nowhere and ruined his 19
What’s this I wonder! , Michael is thinking to himself as he walks closer and closer to the school main entrance.
Michael thinking to himself as he walks as slow and unmotivated as usual to the main campus doors.
“Wow, did I miss first period? Or are we having some kind of drill outside?” Michael thinks to himself as he passes over from the gravel parking lot to the nice asphalted sidewalk, readjusting his backpack strap. A maneuver that he does the same every time because he cannot pick a way to carry his backpack to school. Seems like the cool kids always use one shoulder but it’s not comfortable at all so he usually just tosses the backpack up and down preparing for the inevitable mundane decision he makes every day. TO only wear the back pack on one strap. But the walk there it is a back and forth. As everyone is rushing in to school nobody really takes notice of that part of coolness. Cool kids use two straps sometimes from the parking lot to the school just because they are running to get somewhere. Somewhere cool! But it’s the forgiven area. It seems like you never catch a cool kid ever wearing his backpack a different way no matter what. But your own car to the school doors it’s a personal choice. Choice of practical sense. Something not practiced inside the walls. It’s as though school is a dimension we all enter in the morning and exit when we get through our front door at home. Where we get to enter a whole other dimension.
But today is different. Not more than a couple of minutes of walking what usually is about the equivalent of three laps around the football field, which is about the distance from the parking lot to the main entrance the backpack becomes invisible to the touch of his hand. It just self-adjusts as a backpack should do all on its own as a long gaze stares at the entrance head in the distance.
FOOT NOTES FOR ADDITION TO DESCRIPTIONS:
Mr. Higgley had beautiful green eyes.