Many of the kids education ended in the ninth grade


Sure. Sunbeam School, I think, it was a good thing and I think it was a bad thing. It was a good thing because we had some severely disabled youngsters who had a chance at education who might otherwise have not had that opportunity because the public schools were not geared to take care of these children. [Sunbeam] was a one floor school, nobody was discriminated against because of their disability because we were all disabled. I remember our teachers saying that this isn’t the case today, today they do take developmentally youngsters, mentally retarded youngsters, in those days they didn’t and I remember teachers telling us that all the children in this school are disabled, but they’re not retarded, this is a school that has standards just like any other school and we’re preparing you the best we can. Although there was some hold up, I mean, some kids were getting algebra in the ninth grade and I didn’t get algebra until I got to high school, things like that. But uh, I was talking to Donna Welsch who at that time was principal of Sunbeam and I told her this gig about the “Miracle Baby” where they’re one day being handicapped and the next day not, and I talked about when I left Sunbeam, I didn’t know what a locker was, you know, where you put your books and put your clothes, because they don’t have lockers there. We used to report to our classroom, and they had cloak rooms so you hung your jacket up in a cloak room and you carried your books with you and you didn’t change classes till near the end of my history with Sunbeam. So we would go to one class and we’d stay and the teachers would rotate and come to us. And Donna said to me after I had gone through this long tirade, “Do you think maybe in some ways, Sunbeam prepared you to meet the things that you’d have to meet when you got to high school?” And I had to give her a bone, I said “Yeah. Probably so.” I said “Sure. It helped.” And I had some good teachers, and I did. I think my inspiration for wanting to be educated and my love of literature came from my teacher there, Ms. Sulli. God when I got into her class, I thought I would die because she had a reputation for being a bear and I had a reputation for being a troublemaker, and I thought “This is not going to work out – I can see it coming now.” But she saw the good in me and just took it and started to mold it, whatever good there was, and just gave me a love for literature and a love for learning. If anybody ever influenced my education, I’d have to say it was she. She really was, I think, a nice lady. And I had classes with other teachers and stuff, but to get back to the subject – it was those kinds of things. So when I got ready to graduate, naturally I was very tenuous. My sister had gone to John Adams which is where I was going to go and my friend up the street was still going to John Adams, and they sat me down and talked to me about what I could expect. There was an elevator in the business so you have to go to the office and get an elevator pass, and should we use a lock with a key or should we use a lock with a combination on it – well, maybe you ought to get one with a combination because if you drop the key you can’t pick it up, but if you have a lock with a combination, chances are you won’t drop your lock as quickly as you would drop your key trying to get your books, and this and that. Try to figure your classes so you take books for two classes instead of going back to your locker and get more books, and this… So they did those kinds of things with to help me to understand what I had to do, but the morning I walked in there, I didn’t know anybody. Now all… most of the kids that came in to that freshman class had friends from the junior high schools. We had no junior high school, we went from kindergarten to ninth grade at Sunbeam. Alright? So then we weren’t ready in the high schools, those of us who were able to. Many of the kids’ educations ended at ninth grade. I was lucky, I could climb the steps to get into the building, I couldn’t get up and down the flights but when the elevator wasn’t working I was able to make it. But there were youngsters who were in wheelchairs and they couldn’t even get inside the buildings so they never went on to public school. Some of the schools in their districts didn’t have elevators so what good did it do you to go.

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