“Somebody in my PE class asked me if I was in Mr. Coward’s home base, and I asked him why he wanted to know. He said that he hears us scream every morning at the beginning of first period.”

Suddenly half the class has a story to tell about people who have asked them about the Scream.  Since my classroom is in a solid, cinderblock and concrete building (during every disaster drill, I talk about how we’re in one of the safest places in the school), I figured that only the immediate neighbors could hear us, but I’ve been laggy about shutting the door in the mornings lately. So it seems that our daily Scream is getting a wider audience.

It started as  a joke, as these things sometimes do. Every morning, either the principal or the VP gets on the intercom and leads us in the flag salute. Sometime (s)he also reads the bulletin that we’re already done reading, but that’s another matter. The problem is that neither of them uses a verb when they tell us to show our respect for the flag by placing our hands over our hearts. They shorten the phrase to…

“Hand over your heart. Ready, begin…”

A few weeks ago, after we had been working on verbs, I mentioned that since they don’t say the word place, that the word hand becomes the verb in that imperative sentence (we’ve been working on types of sentences too). So in essence, they are asking us to hand over our hearts to them.

“Kinda Aztec stylie, huh?”  I pantomime tearing out my heart and handing it over.

It took a couple of explanations before ALL of them got it, but once they did…

“We should start screaming every time they do that. You know, like we’re tearing our hearts out.”

So the Scream was born.

I keep saying I’m going to tell admin about their grammatical faux pas (we’ve been screaming for 3+ weeks now), but the homies really like doing it, and keep talking me out of it. They want it to spread to other classes.

“Hand over your hear-”


They get bummed when the secretary fills in, and dispenses with the line altogether, jumping right into the pledge.

It’s not like seventh graders need an excuse to scream.