Baseline Junior High. This is the place where I 

Broke all of the rules, right as I was breaking myself.

Baseline Junior High, my old middle school 

Was torn down not long ago, it’s true

And it’s given me a reason to go back through

My memories to process what happened there.

Baseline Junior High. Grades 7-9. 

A time when I grew

In both body and mind.

And though I grew 

I wish I knew then 

What I know now. 

Baseline Junior High. Grades 7-9.

That’s the place where it all happened.

That big red brick building watched me transition

Through my tough teen years into adulthood.

What a rough transition it turned out to be.

That process of becoming “me.”

As if puberty wasn’t enough strife, 

I had the reality of a rotten home life. 

Of a hard working single mom who never yelped

About my deadbeat dad who, when I was two,

Rode his Harley off into the sunset. 

Seriously man: stay away!

But Dear Old Dad came back.

Dad’s return spun me like a top

Making me stop and question who I was 

Who had made me this way? 

Who gave me my short temper

Who gave me the inability to pay attention?

Longer than five minutes at a time

My frustration bubbled over 

And manifested in what my teachers called

“A behavior problem” that got me hauled

Fast into the Principal’s office. 

Trouble became a mask I hid behind

They stopped adding me to the daily Detention dossier. 

They knew I’d just show up anyway.

Detention became my favorite “class.” 

It became my safe place.

It was the rule breakers’ hang out space.

It was heavenly! It’s where I could be me. 

It was where I could be asked

To take off the mask.

You see, what I didn’t know at the time

Was that my friends and I 

Had something in common.

We had ADHD and other problems.

Paying attention in class was almost impossible. 

We were expected to be like everyone else. 

We weren’t like everyone else though.

We couldn’t be like everyone else. 

So off to detention we’d go. 

And it’s really NOT because 

We were bad kids but because 

We were misunderstood. 

In 1990 we didn’t talk about ADHD.

We just blamed bad behavior on bad attitudes.

On broken homes.

On bad parenting.

Everything was a bone of contention,

And the solutions were not working.

Only a few of us managed to make it out.

Managed to escape a system whose structure

Labeled us different.

Labeled us outcasts.

Labeled us misfits. 

Most of us dropped out of school,

Myself included. 

Most of us ended up in jail.

Myself included.

Metal bars, I learned the hard way

Aren’t meant for 14 year olds. 

School is meant for teens, but if I wanted to stay, 

It had to be a game for me to play

Where everyone but me 

Made the rules. 

Most players in this game didn’t need 

To know the rules. 

The rules were made for the normal kids 

To know what the rule breakers were doing. 

So they could avoid being like us. 

Like an advertisement of what not to be.

I had to learn on my own how to cope.

For my ADHD. 

For my short attention span. 

For my short temper. 

For my inability to keep track of schedules 

For the reason I always lose stuff!

And this will probably raise an eyebrow:

I teach middle school myself now! 

And Baseline Junior High

Is with me every day when I 

Walk into my own classroom. 

I don’t just see my students. 

I see myself. 

I don’t just see rebellious rowdy teenagers. 

I see normal kids that are each a little bit different. 

I see kids that can focus 

And I see the ones that can’t. 

I hear the loud ones and I watch 

As others shrink from the noise and cover their ears. 

And every day I hear the quiet ones, 

The shy ones who are too terrified to speak

And when they do it’s just a squeak. 

It’s just a whisper.

And it’s okay! 

All y'all are okay. 

I want to celebrate that we 

All share the same sky. 

I wish I had a place to value me

When I was in middle school. 

Instead, I got Baseline Junior High. 

They may have torn Baseline down

But it’s eternal for me.

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