Crash Course

(SassyStock / Fotosearch)
By Lori Aratani
Sunday, November 4, 2007

The redheaded woman slips on the Stanford sweat shirt and takes her place in the middle of the 1940s-era wood-paneled classroom.

She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and then exhales. In real life she is Janet Labberton of Piedmont, Calif., suburban mom and stressed-out parent. But today she is taking on a new identity: Andy Bishus, college-bound teenager.

Jim Lobdell, an educational consultant and the leader of this exercise, dims the lights and flips on the overhead projector.

"Andy is a junior, taking a tough academic load,'' he says, his voice dropping an octave as he gestures toward Labberton. "He has two AP classes, two honors classes and typically three to four hours of homework a night. He plays varsity and club water polo. He's junior class president. He's a member of the Key Club. He's on the academic decathlon team. He also works six hours a week as a paid tutor and is a member of his church youth group."

"Now, we're going to see what a day in Andy's life is like.''

"It is 7:50 a.m., 10 minutes before first period," Lobdell says.

A man who is supposed to be Andy's Key Club adviser jumps up from behind a table in the room.

He approaches Labberton.

"Hey, Andy," he says, reading from a slip of paper. "The director of the convalescent home said she really appreciated you all going down there last week to play games with the senior citizens. Nice going. By the way, remember to turn in your record and notes about your 20 hours of community service by Friday."

He then kneels down and grabs hold of the sweat shirt Labberton is wearing.

"It is 8:45 a.m., five minutes before first period ends," Lobdell continues.

Another mom, playing Andy's pre-calculus teacher, comes forward: "Class, for homework tonight, do problems 1 though 12 on Page 224 and problems 21 through 30 on Page 227. There will be a short quiz tomorrow based on those kinds of problems, so study up for that."

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