Detained and Confused

Chronicle Staff

By Sam Adams

It wasn’t my first time receiving the dreaded e-mail from attendace coordinator Gabriel Preciado. Flagged with high importance, my inbox was almost ashamed to present the assertive subject line that I had been assigned DETENTION, in its all-caps glory. Now, dear reader, don’t get the wrong idea about me; I had never actually attended the pre-school punishment, the previous e-mails were the result of a few quirks in the attendance system that had caught me in the mass mailing net.

This time was no different—the offense in question was a day of school I missed for an excused reason. But I forgot to turn in a note and had always been intrigued by the concept of detention, so I decided not to fight the allegation, instead taking my medicine and setting my alarm an hour early the following Wednesday. In my mind, detention was a romanticized convocation of slackers and delinquents, basically “The Breakfast Club.” Who knew, maybe I’d even meet my own Molly Ringwald.

So I got up early, stumbling out of the door while resenting myself for not having found a way out of waking up at such an ungodly hour. I arrived at the classroom adjacent to the attendance office where I would serve out my sentence along with a handful of other students, most of whom had also run afoul of the ironclad attendance policy one way or the other. I was more than a little embarrassed when my English teacher from last year, a woman for whom I have the greatest respect, walked in and announced she was the faculty supervisor.

We sat at desks. And waited. And waited. I’ve never stared at a wall for so long before. Then, we were done. Excused. Expunged of our sins.

I guess I couldn’t have really expected anything more from detention. After all, it’s supposed to be a waste of time, for us to reflect on our transgressions. But honestly, I think it is a luxury that we as a world cannot afford, to simply tell someone to sit still and reflect on what a vile person they are. Why can’t we reform our system for minor penalizations to be constructive rather than merely idling? Instead of sitting at a desk counting the number of freckles on our forearms, we detainees could have been stuffing envelopes for a charity. Or, to help out the school, filing paperwork. Or really anything.

Of course there needs to be a method to punish people who skip class and commit other crimes of that caliber. The punishment should fit the crime, and there is more missed when skipping class than just sitting at a desk and spacing out. However, our current system asserts that spacing out is the cure. We should find something more constructive for our early morning prisoners to do, rather than the introspected hour of penance to which we currently subject detainees. Maybe I was misguided in looking for “The Breakfast Club” at detention—I suppose that’s more up Peer Support’s alley. But we can definitely make detention more than just the Brat Pack.