Dear Sarah,

 In a continual campaign to enlighted the outside world about the manner in
 which their eduation tax dollars are spent, I offer this account to you.

 First you should know I have this head and chest congestion that just won't
 go away. It makes me tired and my whole soul kind of fuzzy and apathetic. I
 took two days off last week and I'm still dragging.

 Yesterday I was so tired at the conclusion of school that I just sat at my
 desk. Hours passed. I picked up my son from daycare just before they closed.

 But somebody's got to keep opening these rusty gates of knowledge, right?
 There's Tennyson to teach and other wonderful stuff I learned in college.

 Today, last period, with a good twenty minutes yet to go before the final
 bell, Ronald accused Lionel of farting.

 Lionel, who is demonstrative to begin with, protested loudly. I didn't want
 to hear it. No, I didn't want to hear it. I can hardly breath. But my last
 period class finished their work early and there must be congestion in my
 brain--I decided to ask Lionel if this particular accusation had merit.

 Ignoring the whole thing or trying to contain it seemed like it was going to
 take too much effort in my diminished state. "Lionel, is what Ronald said

 Ronald was ready to swear to it on a Holy Bible and he also said he didn't
 appreciate it since he has to sit next to him.

 Lionel said he didn't smell a thing. April was quick to point out, "They
 never do." It was a vague observation that didn't require clarification.

 Lionel couldn't believe it. He played with a pimple on his face and said, "I
 made a grunting noise because I was streching my back." He recreated the
 action and the noise for us. The class moaned with disblief but they were
 predisposed to convict, no matter what Lionel said. In the seventh grade,
 I've learned during my long tenure, when accused of this particular crime,
 you are always found guilty. Always. But we continued.

 With my serious tone which masked exhaustion, the class remembered to raise
 their hands to take turns speaking. Their orderliness helped me maintain my

 An office girl entered the room with a note. I asked her if she wouldn't mind
 stepping over to one side of the room. "Do you smell anthing?" Everybody was
 looking at her. She didn't know what she was supposed to say. She looked
 afraid so I said she could go.

 On the surface it looked like I wanted to get to the bottom of this but
 chronically depressed Monroe had to cover his face because nobody has ever
 seen him smile and he wasn't ready to start today.

 I was running out the clock but my class seemed to think they had fallen into
 the twilight zone. In the 7th grade, a teacher will stop everything and
 conduct a serious inquiry if a wallet is stolen but not to find out if
 somebody had actually farted. Not until today.

 I wondered aloud if the involuntary passing of gas, though unpleasant, was
 actually a punishable infraction if it were indeed involuntary....

 Ben said that he saw Lionel eat a bean burrito for lunch implying that was
 action for which he must take responsibility.

 Betsy, who sits up front, rolled her eyes and quickly  passed me a note
 saying Ben was a stupid liar. I looked up and announced to the class it had
 come to my attention that Ben might not be a credible witness.

 I asked for volunteers (five kids raised their hands) to approach Lionel to
 sniff him carefully (all hands went down) and to report back their findings....

 Lionel sprung from his seat and launched into an impassioned monologue in his
 defense but he was so flustered that he tripped up on his words and it
 sounded like a confession. He collapsed in his chair and put a newspaper over
 his head.

 The bell rang.

 Tomorrow we might enter the penalty phase of the trial but I hope to have a
 much, much clearer head.