I went to Stewart Griffin high school in Langley Falls and had a reasonable amount of success whilst there. I was not a top student, though I always felt I could be if I actually put the effort in and didn’t coast as much. Like many students I was one for cramming the day before, even though I didn’t pull all-nighters like my other friends. I was also one for leaving my written assignments to the last minute. I once did a last minute essay that proved very successful.
Whilst at high school we were assigned coursework in our last year. This is the work that adds to the final grade of the student. Do well in your coursework and you can pass without ever needing to do an exam. There were few subjects that did not have coursework and where the coursework bulk made it possible to pass without taking an exam.
There was a lot of coursework in my last two years of high school, and one of the areas where it mattered a lot was in English. There was a Lit and Lang grade to be had, which meant we earned the equivalent of two British GCSEs if we were to move to Britain for higher education (which I did).
We had coursework including a piece on “Mice and Men”, a piece on “Julius Caesar,” a piece on “Macbeth”, an autobiographical piece and a fiction piece. The great thing about the fiction piece was that there was no word count. We were given a free rein to write about whatever we wanted and we were not bound by a word count excepting that our teacher said we should probably keep it below 10,000 words. Don’t forget that for a student with limited time a 10,000 word story is going to take up a lot of time.
The fiction piece was the one I was looking forward to the most, and I had lots of ideas for what I was going to write about. However, I managed to space the deadline to the point where it was due tomorrow. I went home and on my Atari computer I wrote a fictional story based on a nightmare I had the night before.
I even waited when I got home till around 9pm before I started writing. I wrote one side of text and printed it, and then wrote another side of text, turned over the sheet and printed on the other side before I was told to go to bed.
I went to bed knowing that I was going to scrape a pass for this piece at best, but I was confident in my qualification because I knew I had done well on my other coursework. At the most I figured that this piece was good enough to pass, and knew that all in all the worst that would happen is that my final grade would not be a top one (because this piece of coursework would drag down the score).
When the piece was marked I got an A*. I was very impressed with myself for getting an A* with just two sides of written text, especially when the other students had written pages and pages and scored well but not as well as me. A further stroke of my pride came when I saw my teacher’s comments which said, “That was haunting and I am shocked it came from such as young mind. I hope for your sake you copied it from somewhere else.”