Class Act

A group of despondent teachers reading the paper, drinking their coffee or staring into space miserably. Music plays from a radio in the corner. Mr Scotch enters, frowns and walks over to turn the music down.

MISS COLE
Hey! What are you doing?

MR SCOTCH
Not all of us want to hear Justin Bieber (insert any pop star here) screeching at us first thing in the morning!

MISS COLE
Oh, great…take away the one tiny skerrick of joy in my miserable existence why don’t you.

MRS MATTHEWS
Can you lot keep it down? I’m trying to read the paper.

MR COLLA
What number coffee’s that, Shell?

MRS MATTHEWS
Four.

MRS SYNAN
It’s 7.45 in the morning!

MRS MATTHEWS
Only way I can get through the day.

MISS NEWMAN
Did you go away over the holidays, Liz?

MISS JOELLE
Nope, but anywhere is better than this place so I’m not complaining.

MR BENTON
Why are we here so early anyway? I’m missing the Celebrity Gossip segment on Sunrise!

MR SYNAN
Yeah, does anyone know anything about this announcement Peppard is making?

MR SCOTCH
Maybe the students are stranded on a desert island and can’t make it back this term.

MISS NEWMAN
Oh, wouldn’t that be nice.

MRS SYNAN
And way too good to be true.

The teachers start talking amongst themselves. Lucy bounces in, full of energy.

LUCY
Good morning!

Everyone ignores her.

LUCY
I’m Lucy, the new Humanities and Social Studies teacher.

The teachers continue talking to each other. Lucy, confused by this lack of friendliness, heads to the urn where Mr Benton is drinking coffee.

LUCY (sticking out her hand)
Hi, I’m Lucy, the new social studies teacher.

MR BENTON
Fascinating.

He walks away without shaking her hand. Lucy is bewildered. The other teachers glance at Lucy and turn to each other.

MR MORTON
Who is she?
MR COLLA
I think she said she was a new teacher.

MISS JOELLE
Yeah, Humanities. Peppard gave me her employment forms last week.

MISS COLE
That’s ridiculous! Why are we hiring new teachers?

MR SCOTCH
Peppard claims there’s no money for new computers and then he hires a teenager!

Lucy’s smile is gone. Kath, who has been watching all of this with a bemused expression, walks over to Lucy.

KATH
Don’t mind them. They’re just bitter and twisted. Only joy they get in life is tormenting young country girls.

LUCY
How did you know I’m from the country?

Kath looks her up and down.

KATH
Oh, just a wild guess.

LUCY
Wow, that’s amazing. Yeah, I’m from a little town called Tookaroopa about an hour and a half north of the city. We’ve got a population of five hundred and last year we were awarded the state’s prize for the best pumpkins, which is mainly thanks to Mrs Shep who grows the best…

KATH
Lucy, is it? That’s great and I’d love to hear more about Mrs Shep’s pumpkins but…actually, no. That’s not true. I really don’t want to hear more about them.

LUCY
Oh. Okay. So this is the staff room, huh?

KATH
Yep. The Bella Guerin epicentre in all its badly lit, blue-grey glory. I’m Kath, by the way.

LUCY
So, Kath, how would you describe this school in under twenty words?

KATH
Umm, let’s see…badly behaved students, lazy teachers, buildings that should be condemned, computers straight from 1987 and a completely useless principal.

LUCY (laughing)
Oh, you’re funny. How long have you been here?

KATH
Long enough to know that the students here are going to eat you alive.

LUCY
Sorry?

KATH
Never mind. Ahh, here comes our fearless leader now.

LUCY
Oh, it’s Mr Peppard! I’ll go and say hello.

KATH
Maybe give it a minute. He looks stressed out…just for a change.

Mr Peppard and Henry enter. Four year 12 students, James, Ethan, Hannah and Skye, trail behind them carrying audio visual equipment.

LUCY
Who’s that man with him?

KATH
No idea.

LUCY
He has kind eyes.

KATH
How can you tell? The bottom of a vegemite jar isn’t as thick as those glasses.

Mr Peppard reaches the front of the room and turns to the students.

MR PEPPARD
Thank you, children. Could you set up the powerpoint presentation for me?

Throughout the following the kids are elbowing each other and trying not to laugh.

JAMES
Of course, Sir. Are you sure it’s updated to the latest IOS?

MR PEPPARD
The what?

HANNAH
IOS. It needs to sync with cloud preferences. Unless you want to use Windows?

MR PEPPARD
Well…can’t you just open it up and click on it?

ETHAN
Absolutely not, Sir. That might overload the hard drive and crash the operating system.

SKYE
It has to load before you can download a software patch because we’re running a linux program.

ETHAN
Isn’t it a Java program?

JAMES
Nup. Defintely a Linux.

HANNAH
Do you want me to upload the Adobe Flash Player? It might just take a while that’s all.

MR PEPPARD
Oh, for goodness’ sakes! Forget it! I’ll just tell them about it. You can go get ready for class.

They exit, giggling.

MR PEPPARD
Uh…excuse me…little bit of shush….Attention, everyone! Thank you for coming in so early on the first day of term. I hope you’ve all had a lovely holiday and…

MR SCOTCH
So, what’s this announcement?

MR BENTON
Are we getting a raise?

Mr. Peppard bursts out laughing the abruptly stops.

MR PEPPARD
No. Okay, well…I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that the Department of Education wants to shut our school down at the end of the term, which means that, unfortunately, you’d all be out of a job.

General Hubbub ensues and indignant cries of “What?” “You’ve got to be kidding!” etc.

MR PEPPARD
The newly elected Minister for Education wants to start with a clean slate, and she’s using Bella Guerin as an example of her new zero tolerance on low performing schools.

MISS COLE
Right. So, what’s the good news then?

MR PEPPARD
We have this term to prove to her that we deserve to stay open.

MR SYNAN
Well, that’s that then. We’re stuffed.

MR PEPPARD (half-hearted)
Now, now, come on, we all need to try and stay…uh…positive.

MRS SYNAN
Have you met our students? They’re completely beyond help.

MRS MATTHEWS
He’s right. They’re the worst kids in the district.

Mr Peppard turns to Henry and gives a nervous laugh.

MR PEPPARD
They’re exaggerating of course. Our students aren’t that bad.

Lots of coughing and muttering ensues.

MR PEPPARD
This is Henry Bateman from the education department. The minister wants a log of the weeks leading up to the shut down…uh…potential shut down so they can learn from our mistakes…or our successes… and Henry will be monitoring our progress throughout the term. Henry, would you like to say a few words?

HENRY
Good morning, everyone. I’m looking forward to spending the term with you all here at Bella Guerin. As Mr Peppard has indicated I will be collating information on a daily basis and using it to assess the school and your good selves, as well as the students, their achievements and attitude.

KATH
Still think he has kind eyes?

LUCY (nodding)
Uh-huh.

MR PEPPARD
Of course this news is highly confidential. We don’t want the parents or students to get wind of it and have a state of panic on our hands. So, I guess we just have to do our best and try to…

The bell for the first class rings, drowning out Mr Peppard, and all the teachers disperse, grumbling unhappily amongst themselves as they go, and ignoring Mr Peppard who is still trying to talk above the noise. Lucy starts to walk over to him.

KATH
Where are you going?

LUCY
To tell him how excited I am about starting here.

KATH
Um…didn’t you hear that whole “the school is closing down at the end of term” speech? What could you possibly be excited about?

LUCY
Potentially closing down. He said, potentially. But that won’t happen, Kath. We’ll just have to make sure of that.

Lucy walks over to Mr Peppard and Henry.

LUCY
Hello, Mr Peppard. I’m Lucy. We met last week. I’m the new humanities teacher and I’m very happy to be here.

MR PEPPARD
Oh…um…yes. Uh…

LUCY
I didn’t receive my timetable so I was wondering if you can tell me where my first class is?

HENRY
Are you telling me this teacher is new? I don’t think this is the time to be hiring new staff, do you, Mr Peppard?

MR PEPPARD
Actually this position was filled before I found out about the potential shut down. The Department of Education gives me an annual quota to fill and…

LUCY
Hi, Henry. It’s lovely to meet you.

Henry is thrown by this friendly girl.

HENRY
Hello, Miss…

LUCY
Speckle. But you can call me Lucy.

HENRY
Uh…yes, well, nice to meet you, Miss Speckle.

MISS JOELLE (handing Lucy a piece of paper)
Here’s your timetable, Miss Speckle.

LUCY
Oh, call me Lucy, please.

MISS JOELLE
You’re in room 25 now, Miss Speckle. You have grade 4B.

A couple of teachers who are still lingering in the staff room gasp when they hear 4B, then start chuckling.

MISS JOELLE
Down the hall and third door on your right.

LUCY
Okay, I’d better go find room 25.

MR PEPPARD
Oh, Miss Speckle? Would you take Mr Bateman with you so he can observe your lesson?

LUCY
Sure! Come on, Henry.

They leave. Kath turns to Mr Peppard, horrified.

KATH
4B? Are you sure we want to start the newbie off with that class?

MR PEPPARD
Why not?

KATH
Um, maybe because the last teacher they had ended up locked in the closet.

MR PEPPARD
Oh, that was just a silly made up rumour. They can’t be that bad, surely!

He exits, leaving Kath looking after Lucy, a worried expression on her face.

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