The forbidden hill at Excelsior Elementary

The forbidden hill at Excelsior Elementary

A school memoir.

When I went to Excelsior Elementary School, they did not see eye-to-eye with me nor I them. Heck, I was only, what, five or six years old when I got switched to there from Deephaven Elementary School as the Minnetonka School District sought to make something of me as a student.

During my stint at Excelsior, half of my day was spent in a regular class, half in a special education class, while lunch and recess still divided my mornings from my afternoons just like for the rest of the kids.

There is a hill with a modest-sized slope on the northeast side of the school closest to the playground. It is pictured above. Today it has a concrete retaining wall with a mural depicting happy or otherwise content students. The mural (which did not exist during my stint) is ironic in the extreme given that I once got caught up in something on that hill which did not leave me as happy a camper as those kids on the mural.

Despite the slope being so tiny as to be of little consequence to a grown-up, it was deemed dangerous for us kids. Maybe it was because for fear of students getting into trouble over at the TCF Bank next door.  But temptation came calling one day toward the end of our outdoor playtime when I spotted several boys on that forbidden slope. Despite the warnings I had heard, curiosity compelled me to join in and I arrived just in time to get busted with them by one of the school staff.

Our punishment was soon handed down: we had to sit quietly with our heads resting on the tables in the lunch room like we were so many hard cases in a prison. Unfortunately for me, I had landed myself in a jam with just about every cut-up in the place.  

Not only did they not sit quietly, they laughed and giggled amongst themselves as they did things like try to eat gum stuck to the bottom of the tables as they collectively thumbed their noses at the lady trying to keep order in the room as the school dispensed with capital punishment.

I did not join in the fun. I was so overwhelmed by it all I just sat there with my head down and let the Cool Hand Luke Jr.’s do their stuff.  Wishing all the while they would just shut up as their antics and noises were not helping my already crushed morale any. Happy to relate, mom read Excelsior Elementary the riot act when she heard about what they had done to me and took me out of there.