Tales of Xenia: Junior High day


Cookie Newsom



Coming home from the YMCA recently I had a flashback when the song “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer came on the radio.

This song is from about 1979. In 1979 I was teaching civics and French to ninth graders at Warner Junior High.

I was also the advisor/coach for the WJHS drill team, a large group of about 30 young women who could dance their behinds off. I had become the advisor because the talented woman who had formed the drill team/dance troupe, another teacher in the building, and made them razor sharp and impressive, had some kind of difficulty and the principal at the time asked if I would take it over until they could find someone else. He kindly did not say someone more qualified, I had no qualifications, I was a decent dancer, but designing routines and selecting music for a drill team, nope.

He was my friend and had always been nice to me so I said yes, thinking it would be for the rest of the school year. Turned into a much longer gig. Fortunately, the young women were so well prepared that I did not have to do anything but schedule practices and watch.

Junior High Day was coming up. For those of you too young to remember, we used to have two junior high schools. Central considered itself the ritzy one since it was a new building and in the part of town that fancied, and probably still does, itself upscale. Warner was an older building and the kids generally came from less expensive homes. What many people did not seem to realize, however, was that many of the people in the Warner district made at least as much money or more than those in the Central district. They simply spent their money on different things. What they also did not realize was that because much of the town tended to look at Warner as the lesser school in a lot of ways, my Warner kids were much more accomplished than my Central kids because they had something to prove. I taught at both for a while after the tornado because Central did not have a French teacher, so I was at Warner in the morning and Central in the afternoon. My Warner kids were generally better athletes and definitely better at both social skills and school pride.

So Junior High Day basketball game time meant a lot was on the line. Bragging rights for another year to begin with at least until football Junior High Day. Central had a drill team as well. I requested some practice time for my young ladies at the Field House, Central’s home court so the girls could get familiar with the size of the floor and the setup.

The song chosen by the girls for practice was “Bad Girls.” My Falconettes had a sense of humor. So we trooped over after school. They did a dance/drill routine to the funky song that would have impressed anyone. Several of the Central staff who had come to peep, came up to me and said that the young women were so good it was going to be no contest the next day at halftime of the ninth grade game when both schools performed. It wasn’t. My girls got a standing ovation. I got lots of undeserved kudos, which I enjoyed enormously.

I don’t remember who won the basketball game, but it was obvious who won the halftime show.

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Cookie Newsom

Cookie Newsom is a Greene County resident and columnist.

Cookie Newsom is a Greene County resident and columnist.