Following is the text of Rudi Engbrecht’s presentation at the Kelvin Class of ’69 reunion in June 2003, wherein he meets the Dark One and has to acoount for his 34-year-old sins:

A tribute – class of rm. 57

Grade 10 – 1966-67

Grade 11 – 1967-68

rudi engbrecht

June 14, 2003

Class Reunion

Wildewood Club


          We came to a lake of ice….. like clear glass.
          Beneath……..entombed sinners

              looking up……with frozen eyes.

          Here lie those of the ninth circle, the last circle.
          They have sinned……..have been traitors to kin and country.
          Dante – Inferno

“But Sir”, Mr. E. protested, “I was a teacher who strove to do his best.  How can I be relegated to this ‘lake of ice'”?

“Mr. E!  You obviously do not understand.  Ignorance absolves not consequence – as we so commonly say down here.  You have misled the students of  Rm.57 –  the Ticehursts, the Gregorys, the Arnotts, the Abrams.  They trusted you; they were family to you, and you betrayed them.   In Canto 32 we read –traitors to family shall beheld in ice, heads bent forward .  We have no choice.  This will be your fate.  To mislead is to invite punishment.  You may have had good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with………  Do you understand?

“No, Sir.  I do not understand.  I meant well; I was diligent; I loved them.  Does this not suffice?”

“No.  It does not suffice.  Their intellects suffered.  They succeeded in-spite of you rather because of you.  At best you were a fraud and traitor to them; at worst?  Well, it matters no more.”

“But Sir?  In what way was I this fraud and traitor?”

“Well.  Lets begin then.  First.  The 5 paragraph essay!  Do you know that after graduation from high school, not one of them ever wrote another 5 paragraph essay?  Dozens & dozens & dozens of futile, 5 paragraph essays.  A fraudulent use time, effort and taxpayer dollars.”

“But Sir.  Look at these essays.  I have proof.  Receipts of excellence. 

          Krys Sokolowski         54/60
          Daryl Favor             50/60
          Michael Rachlis 45/60
          Steve Schacter          44/50
          Grant Mitchell          35/60

“Yes.  These students received high marks – except Mitchell – but on tasks of little or no of significance.  So, maybe Mitchell was the most intelligent one.  Remember, not one of these students ever wrote a 5 paragraph essay in their professions.  Futile.  Its like a champion, purebred breeding bull shooting semen blanks into select, purebred cows.  Much effort; no result.  And worse!  When you marked these essays, students knew not your criteria for judgment.  No samples of varying degrees of excellence, no clear delineation of what content, organization, style and mechanics meant.  No descriptors, no rubrics.  Bad!  Bad,!  Bad!  Fraud.  Pure and simple”.

“But Sir.  I didn?t know……..”

“Excuse me?  Remember.  In this 9th. circle, ignorance is no excuse for mediocrity.?

“But Sir.  I have an essay here from a Carlos Carvallio Filho  It has only 3 paragraphs.”

“Which one??

? To Virgins – to make much of skirts,  Sir?.

?Oh that one?   Read us some of this essay?.

          Painful suffering to see a young girl exposing a delightful pair of legs with innocent expression of an angel and the malice of Satan.  How painful to be in a classroom surrounded by exposed lasses, whose concept of exposure implies mini-skirts and gymnast-like positions when they sit down.  Yet, if ever suffering please me, this was the time…………….

          O virgins of today!  What torture you throw upon us, makes us, males of this unjust world, by showing what you shouldn?t and, why not say it, not showing what you should.  You are Temptation from top to bottom and what is worse is that you don?t care what the consequence of such devlish actions may be.  I can still remember the contorted faces of poor young lads, not yet aware of the dangers of this world swallowing air and breathing fire, with their eyes shining and drops of perspiration falling from the tips of their noses, confused and perplexed at a sight so beautiful and yet so terrible.  ……………………………………….

?Enough!  We remember that one.  You are right – 3 paragraphs, not 5.  But the writing! Not only unrhythmic, ungrammatic, but lewd and disdaining.  Do you know that when his mother arrived in Heaven and read this essay, she drifted into coma, muttering –

          how could that teacher let my sonwrite….

              that teacher let my son write……

                  that teacher let my son write……..

                      that teacher……………………………………

This is traitor to family, community, country.  A mother entrusts a teacher to instill high, moral value in her son, and you, you the teacher, betrays her that trust.”

“But Sir.  He wrote another essay of only 2 paragraphs.”

“And the title?”

She, Sir”.

“Say no more. We just couldn’t let his mother read that one.”

“But Sir.  They wrote not only essays.  Every Friday, they wrote – what in those days we called – creative writing.  Every Friday.  It was fun”.

“Fun?  Yes, you probably all had fun.  I see you have come with samples titled ‘receipts of excellence’.”

“I have.?

?Read me some samples then.            

          The Sky

              by Fran Darling

          The sky glows pink in the gentle storm,
          The wind is still, asleep,
          The snow floats softly to the ground,
          And on this night, I weep.

          I slowly rise from my window seat,
          And stop my empty crying,
          I find my coat and leave the house.
          My grief is slowly dying.

          I stroll, and think.  And then I find
          A friend I?ve lost before.
          I talk to her; I tell her all,
          Till I can say no more.

          She listens and does not reply,
          But fills me, slowly, creeping.
          Now I am strong; I live again,
          For I?m in Peace?s keeping.

“Really!  Doggerel,  pathetic fallacy bastardized, the speaker first weeping, then suddenly rejuvenating.  All just happens!  Right?  No need to contextualize!  Right?  And the meaning?  What means the last line For I’m in Peace’s keeping ? PersonifiedPeace ?  Even Donne with his penchant for metaphysical conceit would turn in his grave on that one!  And the diction – But fills me slowly creeping …  Since when does a rejuvenating feeling ‘creep’?  Only creeps ‘creep’.  But go on.

          Young Man from Spain

              by Ian Gemmill – Stanza 2

          There once was a young man from Spain,
          Who flew through the skies in his jet
          But one day when he crashed
          And this face was all bruised
          He said, ?Now I shall travel by bus?.

“Senseless!  Go on.?

          They Spent Their Time

              by Peter Kernahan

          They spent their time in the bowling alley,
          They were there when the bomb fell.
          They oggled the new chromium coffins,
          They were turned to jelly in them.
          They stood around the pinball machine,
          The city was burned around them.
          They laughed, with the reels of canned laughter
          The world fell apart about them.

“Mr. E.?  Do you have any idea what this so called poem might mean”?

“No Sir”.

“Then why is this Peter writing it”?

“Sir. It was Friday afternoon.”

“Go on.”

          A Depressing Day

              by Jane Bowden

          A depressing day,
          Nothing right,
          He wallowed in self-pity,

          He shuffled home,
          slammed the door,
          Then smiled
          As he smelled
          The odor of fried chicken
          From the kitchen;
          His favorite meal.
          Depression vanished
          With hungry anticipation.

“Mr. E.  Has it ever occurred to you that you might have taught these students to ?show rather than tell??”

?No, Sir.?

?Didn?t think so.  Another?.

          The Clock…….on Friday Afternoon

              by Robert Cooke

          The clock showed one to four.
          The second hand arced slowly round!
          The rustle of working students
          Rose to a muffled, yet vibrant sound.

          Closer came the clock
          Until remained five seconds more.
          The muffed sound expanded,
          Became a happy chattering roar.

          Then up spake the teacher
          Her face shaped in a sadistic grin
          ?You all, for half an hour,
          Room 19, will remain within.?

?Really!!   Next?”

          The Harvest

              by Brian Sharkey

          The grain is harvested – its fills
          aluminum granaries,
          Beyond the barnyard fence are
          piles of bailes;
          The fields are bare, – deprived
          of glory,
          The garden?s pickings line the
          This year has been abundant
          for the farmer,
          It has outlasted all that came before;
          Shelves lie sagging engulfed
          in storage,
          Now work has reached its final
          Awaiting winter?s oncoming
          cold and stormy rage.

?Oh my God!  Has this Sharkey ever farmed?

?No, Sir.  I don?t think so.?

?Think so??  Maybe you should have challenged this Sharkey and his classmates to write about something they know something about?.

?Go on.?

          He Glanced Around

              by Max Blouw

          He glanced around.
          Her back was turned.
          His eyes gleamed.
          His fingers burned.
          The chalk was here.
          And Fred was there.
          The distance was
          But a good twelve feet.
          The chalk must meet
          Fred?s cranium
          He raised his arm.
          He was ready to throw,
          But Her voice cut in
          ?Who?s that boy??

“Oh, moi!  Continue.”

          She Cringes

              by Yael Breitman

          She cringes in her dark corner,
          Surrounded by sorrow.
          The face transparently flaky and softly puffed
          Amidst wrinkled furrows
          Shows mistrust, defiance and pride
          Setting her quivering jaw.
          The eyes deceive.
          They stare liquidly at nothing,
          Remembering that which is also nothing.


surrounded by sorrow…………..eyes….stare liquidly…….remembering that which is nothing .  Mr. E.  what does one say?”   Go on.

          Bells are Ringing

              by Judy Beamish

          Bells are ringing in my head
          My head is hot, my cheeks are red
          My palms are sweating, my feet are cold
          I feel as carefree as the wind, I scorn the cautions of the old
          I?m dizzy and I?m trembling, I can?t sleep at night
          I laugh at sights unfunny and I cry at any slight
          The doctor?s diagnosis is either one or two,
          I?m either almost dead or I?m in love with you.

?Schlock!   Pure and simple!  One more will do.?

          Cold Wind Chills on my Body

              by Monica Goldberg

          I know the cold wind chills my body
           But I cannot feel the pain.
          For in my soul, I know only
          Of the pain a cross can cause.

          The bright neon lights and glaring signs
          Are but a stinging memory.
          Yet, a soothing warmth attends the sting
          And, once more I forget the hurt.

          The sweet tender morsel of love
          Can only fall once.
          A cross and star in conflict
          Can extinguish burning fires.


?Stop!  Stop!  This blisters our ears!  Is there anything more you would like to say?”

“Well, Sir.  You don?t like our essays and poems.  Maybe you would like our written dialogues.”

“Dialogues?  Mme.  Read me some.  Maybe we can salvage something.”

          Mr. Bates vs. Michael Rachlis

              by Kathy Ticehurst & Donna Gowron

          Mr. Bates:      Allright, you people, stop that racket – you?re in 11-57.   I

                  don?t expect to have to yell at you like I yell at all the other classes.  Of course, I can always assign you some interesting extra work.

          Michael:        But, Sir, we all adore some extra work in Physics, Sir,

                  because we?re in 11-57, Sir.

          Mr. Bates:      All right.  Lets see (runs finger down class register) now

                  where?s that big black dot?  O.K. Rachlis, there?s gonna be a big red circle around that big black dot, which will increase the psychological value by 25%.

          Michael:        (stands up, turning red through freckles) 

                  Doomed, doomed!  Sir, you?ve doomed me!  I?ll never get a job – I?ll have to drop out …….. and carry my white head to the grave.  Please, Sir, don?t do that to me Sir.  Please Sir?

                  (Mr. Bates stands serene, arms folded while Michael collapses into chair)

          Jack:           Well sir, it?s a commonly known scientific fact that the

                  psychological value would be cubed if you squared the diameter of the circle and added the square root of the number of revolutions in thirty seconds of a stroboscope.

“Honestly!  Yes, there is a tension here.  But its melodramatic.  This Michael muttering on aboutwe all adore ,Doomed, doomed, carry my white head in sorrow to the grave .  And more, what does this Jack character – must be Gemmell – right? – mean in that last piece of dialogue, what with psychological value…cubed…….and squared…….. .   Is this a new field of psychology?

?I don?t know, Sir.?

?Yes, we know you don?t.  But worse.  With Jack?s comment, this piece becomes a trialogue – whatever that means. You said you were reading dialogues.  You – are stretching our patience!  One more – only.

          God Bless America

              by Peter Kernahan & Brian Sharkey

          Allen:          (screams) The Americans have every right in this world to

                  be in foreign countries because they enable these underdeveloped areas to develop their unlimited resources…

          Carlos:         The Americans just exploit the country and then withdraw

                  when the resources are exhausted……………….

          Allen:          Listen Carvalho they really help the people and enable

                  defeat Communism.

          Carlos:         You listen you …………….(Allen) ?Freedoms arsenal is a

                  vigilant America?…..  American pig (simultaneously)

          Allen:          Shut up you Communist bum the Americans are ……..

          Miss Speers:    Now, now boys less light and more  heat ….. oh uh tee hee

                  ….. less heat more light.

“This is anti-American!  Appalling!  Absolutely appalling!  This Carlos kid.  He will be here in this when his time comes – first the Virgin stuff, then the She , now the worst – anti-Americanism.  Unacceptable.  He will be here for thinking it & writing it & doing it; and you, for letting him think it & write it & do it .   Anything else?

“Well, Sir.  We wrote stories too.”

“I don?t know.  Wally.  Do we listen to one more?  OK then.  Only one though.  Only one.

“OK, Sir.”

          Irving Gahorficks

              by Grant Mitchell

          Irving Gahorficks slammed the door, just as his mother?s lecture was reaching its tumultuous climax.  His timing was impeccable.  His mother shouted, ?do you know what the opportunities are for someone without university education – ?? and slam, he turned her off.  Why shouldn?t he?  He knew the answer.   Day after day, the speech came like a recorded announcement.

          Irving, aged twenty-two, was spending his seventh year at Belinski High.  He was enrolled in a grade eleven, university entrance program for he fourth straight year.  Many of his classmates had enjoyed his company all four years.  The atmosphere in the classroom was ideal for studying.  The teacher drawled on at the front of the class, more disinterested than most  of his pupils.  When he wasn?t skipping class, Irv sat at the back of the ………………

“Stop!  Stop!  Where is this story going?

?I don?t know, Sir.?

?Exactly!  No-where!  Deplorable!   No emerging plot, probably no conflict nor resolution.  Does it occur to you that during your two years with these longing-to-learn-students, you drifted to vacuum?  Two long years of vacuum?  You forced them to write futile, 5 paragraph essays, allowed them to write immoral, tasteless, unrhythmic, badly worded non-5 paragraph essays, encouraged schlocky attempts at so-called poetry, and, celebrated formless, aimless stories.  Stunning!  Absolutely stunning!  You are the first of the few ever to be relegated to this 9th. circle – along with this Carlos kid when he gets here – whose defense indicts rather than defends.  I think I can honestly say –  you will be happier frozen in ice than you have ever been living out there on earth. 

One final matter.  Yes, you are ignorance?  Bad enough.  But worse, your are naive ignorance, Mr. E.?  Absolutely incredible!   You are a first here at the 9th..  You never knew of the class tournament in which students pushed their pens across their desks and got points for the distance it extended over the edge without falling.  You didn?t even realize that the foot-long pens they brought to class were not used to write your damn 5 paragraph essays.  And certainly you never knew about the students who came late after lunch hour because they had been falling in love on busses and parks.  Blissful ignorance! Right?  Happy amidst this wasting of time and energy, of this wallowing in immoral, inartistic, mundane endeavor, in this simple waste of tax-payer money.

?But Sir.  I engaged students.  It was they who read Shakespeare.  It was not I, the teacher, as was classroom convention in the 1960s.?

?True.  But, back to the immoral.  Do you remember this kid Schacter?  Steve?  Steve Schacter!  Reading one of Roderigo?s lines (thanks Nick)?  Do you remember him reading – in all seriousness – the words las-vicious Moor ?   Everyone laughed, and innocent young Steve could only blush not knowing what he had said or done.   This is humiliation!  Can you imagine how Steve must have felt?   Probably not!  And then, your comments on essays you marked 0/10.   Remember that Mitchell, kid?  Grant!  Grant Mitchell!   His essay on Lady Macbeth?  He tried.  Diligently tried.  Granted he hadn?t read the play.  Granted he had winged the essay.  But, you offered only derisive comment. You wrote – ?from which Winnipeg poker palace did you get this answer??  And much worse!  You insisted he rewrite it.  Do you have any idea what such experiences do to innocent, well-meaning young minds?  We don?t think you do.  In fact, we know you don?t.  And Great Expectations !  Six weeks of this painful non-sense discussion, of scene readings and presentations, of tests and essays.  Dreadful!   No examination of point of view and points of view, no discussion of style and structure, of  allusion and metaphor, no opportunity for students to parody Dickens? content and style, to spin from the structures of this novel into writing structures of their own.  Mr. E.!  Did it never occur to you that these students could have been reading the many great works of  literature from all parts of the world, and then talking about what they had read?    Have you read Northrope Frye on this one?

?But, Sir.  Great Expectations was on the curriculum.  Schools insisted we spend 6 weeks reading and understanding it.?

?Oh, my God!  Not that one again.  That is why I work here Mr. E. and not in Heaven.  Too many conventional minds up there.  Anyhow.  What else?  Time we finish.?

“But Sir, I honored students insisting they discuss important literary issues”.

“Oh, discussion you call it.  Well, who talked?  Mostly you and that cynic, Duncan Irvine;  less often, it was Beamish & Gemmell & Backhouse & Sharkey; and, seldom would it be one of the others. And worse!  You insisted they talk to you.  Mr. E..   I ask you.  Why did you not engage them in challenging dialogue with each other?  In interactive groups where you could have helped them develop thinking skills –  to categorize, to priorize, to use analogy and metaphor; to facilitate rather than irritate; to detect and avoid logical fallacy?  Why did you not teach them these skills?  Just too much you have missed.  We can only conclude that arguments and the samples you have cited serve to reinforce our initial analysis.  You belong here in the 9th.

We have one more duty.  Too read you your epitaph?.

?An epitaph, Sir?  Oh, thank you.?

?Yes.  Its an adaptation of a Michael Rosen poem.  Michael is British – in case you didn?t know?.

          Mr. E. said:
          A noun is a naming word.
          What is a naming word
          in the sentence
          ?He named the ship, Lusitania??
          ?Named? said eager Rice.
          ?WRONG!? snapped Mr. E. ?Itsship ?

          Mr. E. said:
          A verb is a doing word.
          What is the doing word
          in the sentence
          ?I don?t like doing homework??
          ?Doing? said an eager to please Sharkey.
          ?WRONG?!         Mr. E. snapped again.  ?Its like?

          Mr. E. said:
          An adjective is a describing word.
          What is the describing word
          in the sentence
          ?Describing sunsets is boring?
          ?Describing said Goldberg from her front-centre seat.
          ?WRONG!?        Mr. E. snapped one final time.  ?Its boring?.
          ?I know it is? muttered Gemmell – under his breath.

                  adapted from a poem by Michael Rosen, London, England

And instantly, Mr. E. – head bent forward………..was frozen in ice
                                                                Smiling.        Blissfully.

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  1. I was surfing the net looking for reviews of a book of mine when i came upon this. How nice! It made me want to be there. Best of luck,Michael

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