By Adam Polaski
On the morning of Tuesday, October 26, Mrs. Beatrice Cooper, first grade teacher at Virgil Elementary School in Cortland, NY, choked on a piece of an apple that one of her students gave to her earlier in the day. The 63-year-old immediately detected foul-play and speculated on the possibility that it was a terrorist attack, saying, “Things like this don’t just happen randomly. We need to realize that if an injury occurs in school, there’s about a 90-percent chance that the attack was maliciously planned. In a way, my suffocation episode parallels Columbine.”
The student, Jonathan Empire, claims that his intention was not to harm his teacher. Empire said, “I didn’t mean to hurt her, honest!” Despite this, Empire was sentenced to a week’s worth of timeout without recess, a punishment designed to force him to reflect on the consequences of his actions.
Cooper comments, “It certainly isn’t difficult to imagine this supposedly innocent little boy growing up to become a gang leader or an assassin. He clearly harbors fierce aggression toward his classmates and toward me. I don’t even know if I feel safe with him in my class, and I have a good 55 years on the rascal!”
After witnessing Empire’s extreme behavioral shift, Cooper petitioned the school to fail Empire from her class and force him to repeat first grade. She reasons, “He’s already caused great damage and physical injury with a simple apple. We cannot allow him to advance any further in the school system. We need to let his moral code develop first–what’s right, what’s wrong, why you shouldn’t let your teacher eat an apple that will choke her–before even attempting to teach him basic arithmetic.”
Although Empire’s parents have criticized the Virgil administration for their decision to hold back their child, the principal of Virgil, Dr. Robert Pratt, does not regret his ruling, which also includes a new school-wide ban on apples and other assorted fruits. “I don’t think we’re overreacting at all,” Pratt remarks, continuing with a smile, “Better safe than sorry.”
Adam Polaski is a freshman journalism major. E-mail him at [email protected].