As a classroom teacher, papers with no names on them were one of my pet peeves. My junior high students quickly understood the place to find a nameless paper – in the folder with my detested orange color. They understood the logic connecting the hated nameless papers with my least favorite color. I graded all papers when they came in. There would be a number on the paper, but my grade book showed a zero.
After moans of, “But I turned that paper in,” I would suggest, “Then perhaps you should look in the orange folder.” More moans. My ears were deaf to suggestions that I should have recognized the handwriting. My job description did not include recognizing handwriting.
The price of getting the number to replace the zero in my grade book was to write one’s name twenty-five times on the paper. The quantity of papers in the orange folder decreased as the year wore on, but never went away entirely.
Jarred, who sometimes found his papers in the orange folder, was one of those kids who made every day a challenge – and fun. He pushed the boundaries periodically just to see if they were still there. They were. I think he enjoyed testing, and I enjoyed assuring him that no rules had changed.
The day before school was out, Jarred began investigating every time he changed classes to see if anything had been delivered to my room. Nothing had. When his class with me met in the afternoon, he asked if he could run to the office to see if anything had come in for me. I assured him that he could not, that we could trust the office to send anything that came with my name on it to my room. By now, my curiosity was piqued, but I tried not to let on.
Early on the last day of school, the florist delivered a bouquet from Jarred that contained only orange flowers.
I began my thank you note, “Orange you glad you were in my class?” Naturally, I wrote it with an orange ink pen.