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What I would leave on my teachers' graves

Art by Ket Gill

Not too long ago I saw a TikTok video… Well, “video” is pushing it… I saw a collection of photographs. Some TikTok user put together a compilation of famous celebrities’ gravestones and what people leave on them. I thought this was interesting. Functionally, many of us will be remembered by very few things. One thing we like, one memory someone has of us… Anyway, that’s kind of a macabre way of thinking of it. Maybe when people leave potatoes on Antoine-Augistin Parmentier’s grave they aren’t grasping at straws trying to remember some semblance of a thing to remember him by or minimizing his existence to a singular moment, they’re emphasizing a triumph or gifting a symbol of his accomplishments. 

I tried thinking about what I would put on the graves of celebrities, but honestly, I don’t think I know a single celebrity enough to come up with anything that is remotely witty. But, then I remembered, who do you know simultaneously everything and nothing about? Teachers! So here’s what I would leave on each of my respective teachers’ graves!

Period 1/4: Ms. Villegas

Starting off strong, Ms. Villegas is doing double duty, serving as both my DP History (period 1) teacher and my Theory of Knowledge (period 4) teacher (or as I have been heavily persecuted for calling it, just Theory). Now this is a woman who is prepared to serve, serve what you ask? Well, my offering to Ms. Villegas is a Chromebook charger. Never in my life have I worried for the life of my Chromebook on a Green Day, no sir. Thank you Ms. Villegas, may you rest in peace, and enjoy a consistently charged Chromebook, it’s the least I can do after all the battery life you offered me.

Period 2: Mr. Martinez 

Right next door is Mr. Martinez, my IB Film teacher. To be honest, we are still getting to know one another. I switched into his class this semester from visual arts so my guess for the perfect offering is only going to be slightly better than yours. But from what I know, this guy likes the French. I’ve watched one movie… ahem, film, in his class so far and that thing was French as hell. To honor the certain je ne sais quoi of Monsieur Martinez, I’d like to leave in his final resting place, a freshly baked baguette stuffed with a decadent cigarette butt filling.

Period 3: Sra. Franco

On to Spanish class! I’ve been taking Spanish since 7th grade and IB SL Spanish is probably my favorite class to pretend to know a language I can’t speak! The only true way I can think to honor such a woman is to surround her tomb with pieces of the burning rubble from Google Translate headquarters. Google Translate is probably the biggest reason that I have a year 2 level knowledge (generous) of the language. That and the fact that my family is German as hell and the closest relation I have to the Spanish language is my Uncle Fred from Panama and he’s adopted and lives in Florida, so where do we go from here…

Period 5: Mr. Zerfu

A few things came to mind when I was thinking about what to honor Mr. Zerfu with, firstly, maybe a flag of Thailand. I remember when I first had his class freshman year, I saw his ceramic (?) Thai flag. This confused me because Mr. Zerfu did not have what I would categorize as a Thai accent. But I also know nothing about Thailand. I went home and asked my mom what Thai people sound like and she said that she would not do that, so until I solve that mystery, I’m not touching that. I settled on one of those comically large erasers. I think he could use it. He’s a great math teacher but at least once a week he’ll have a day where he just straight up writes every problem wrong. And for those days he may have in his time away from Earth, I’ll fill his sarcophagus with 100s of “For Really Big Mistakes” erasers.

Period 6: Ms. Ortiz

This was easily the hardest pick, Ms. Ortiz is very multifaceted and I’ve known her for a while. While I considered things like those glasses with pictures of eyes in them so you can always make eye contact or perhaps a never-ending stream of “pomegranate metaphor” TikToks, I opted for something more personal, something removed from myself. I wish to give Ms. Ortiz one of those best friend necklaces. No for me and her (that feels like it may be stepping a boundary), but rather for her and Mrs. Clark. I, personally, have never had Mrs. Clark and can therefore not vouch for her,  but I know that the 2 of them are best friends. Would hate for them to have to part in the afterlife, and as we all know, best friend necklaces transcend the bonds of time and space to make sure you’re always with your bestie, forever.

Period 7: Mrs. Malec

Mrs. Malec was a hard one. She’s probably one of the nicest people to ever exist. But still, a real enigma… a real amoeba (Get it? Because she’s my AP Biology teacher). I decided I would honor her with my favorite memory I have in her class, every time Riley is forced to bring her sparkling water. Now, I don’t know who Riley is, but she has some kind of radar for this kid. Every time he is remotely close to the class, she’s able to call for him and ask him to bring her sparkling water. No woman should have to go to the pearly gates without her student butler, so Mrs. Malec, I’ll send Riley to leave a La Croix on your headstone every month. Like an edible arrangement type of deal. 

Period 8: Mr. Hicks

And finally, my boss, my journalism teacher, Mr. Hicks. Out of all the teachers, I’ve known Mr. Hicks the longest, which only makes shopping for a gift even harder. But, you know what they say, making a gift can be so much better than buying a gift! For this reason, I’ve decided that I will print out all of my published articles on the Eagle’s Scream into a packet and leave that propped up on his modest headstone. Personal (maybe a bit self-centered), economic, and lazy, all the tenets of a PERFECT handmade gift!

Sorry if this came off as spooky. Especially sorry to the teachers who were killed in my hypothetical. Just thought this would be a good time. All my teachers are upstanding citizens and I would imagine, generally good people! Thank you for your service teachers, hope you live long and prosperous lives, and in the very statistically likely scenario that I outlive you, I’ll make sure to put flowers and the regular stuff on your grave, because I care. Now, about that extra credit…

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