(This is a copy of my classroom policies from those happy days when I taught at Bethlehem Catholic High School. Perhaps some of the insanity therein contained might be helpful to other teachers…)
I am, by nature, a benevolent Captain. Yet, owing to my poor eyesight, I find it necessary to place great demands on my crew as far as discipline is concerned. My SHIP’S RULES may at first appear to be eccentric, but please realize that they are really my attempt to compensate for my blindness. Remember also that it is a privilege indeed to sail aboard the Stella Maris.
Your name is important. It is important to me. Because I rely heavily on my sense of hearing, I tend to recognize crew members more by voice than by appearance. So until I learn to recognize your voice, I may ask you to tell me your name again and again. Thank you for your patience.
The Importance of Being in Your Rowing Station on Time
It is difficult for me to deal with a lot of crew members milling around aimlessly aboard ship. For this reason, the Captain hereby institutes the following policies.
Immediately after the bell signals the beginning of class, I shall pipe you aboard with my boatswain’s whistle. By the time I finish piping, you must all be seated in your assigned rowing stations. Any crew member not in his or her seat at this time automatically becomes a stowaway.
First-class stowaways are those crew members who have not made it aboard ship by the time I finish piping. They must stand at the gangplank, salute, and request permission to come aboard. Lateness to class is an infraction of the discipline code and will be dealt with by Student Affairs.
Second-class stowaways are those crew members who, although on board ship, are not yet seated by the time I finish piping. They too must stand at the gangplank, salute, and request permission to come aboard. Their penalty is to serve a “Captain’s Detention” in which they will swab the deck (sweep the floor), scrape barnacles (remove gum wads), or perform other tasks deemed appropriate by the Captain.
Remember: BE IN YOUR ASSIGNED ROWING STATION BY THE TIME I FINISH PIPING THE CREW ABOARD.
I generally like to have a box of Kleenex on my desk. Feel free to take tissues, but you must do so before the initial class bell. Once the bell has rung, you will not be permitted to take my Kleenex without asking and receiving permission.
After the bell has rung, no one is to be out of his or her rowing station without permission.
I shall rely on you to observe the school dress code. My poor eyesight makes it difficult for me to engage in uniform inspection. If, however, violations of the dress code are observed, they will be dealt with according to school policy.
With the beginning of the second quarter, Mr. Petruzzelli (the Admiral) will announce that all crew members will be required to wear school sweaters in the classrooms and hallways. (Crew members in sports uniforms are an exception.) Once this winter dress code goes into effect, no crew member is to board ship unless he / she is wearing his / her sweater.
Members of my crew may remove their sweaters while on board ship if, and only if, the following sequence of events takes place:
The Officer of the Uniform (OU), to be appointed by the Captain, raises his / her hand immediately after the class prayers are concluded.
The Captain acknowledges the OU’s hand.
The OU rises to his / her feet and says in a clear voice: “Captain Father, in the vast plentitude of your beneficence, will you deign to allow your most esteemed crew to divest ourselves of outer apparel?”
The Captain replies: “Permission granted.”
Note: The OU is under no obligation to request that the crew be given permission to remove their sweaters. He / She may choose to ask, or he / she may decide not to ask. The choice belongs to the OU. Also the Captain is under no obligation to grant permission once the OU has asked for it. The Captain retains the right to say: “Permission denied.”
Under certain conditions, the Captain will raise a crew member’s quarter grade through bonus points earned during that quarter.
If a crew member’s actual quarter grade is below 70, the Captain will add to the grade any bonus points the crew member has earned during that quarter, but the resulting grade can be no higher than 70. If a crew member’s actual quarter grade is anywhere from 70 to 98, the Captain will add to the grade any bonus points the crew member has earned during that quarter, but the resulting grade cannot have been raised by more than five points and can be no higher than 99. Finally, if a crew member’s actual quarter grade is 99 or 100, the Captain can add no bonus points whatsoever to the grade.
Take heed: If a crew member commits an infraction and / or earns a detention on three or more occasions during a given quarter, he / she automatically forfeits for that quarter any previously gained bonus points as well as the privilege of gaining additional bonus points. Poor behavior reaps penalties, not only in the world to come, but also in this world as well.
H / F Credit Cards
To avoid endless requests by the crew to use the bathroom and / or water fountain, the Captain hereby institutes the following policies:
At the beginning of each semester, every crew member will be issued an H / F Credit Card (HFCC). This card must be signed by the crew member as soon as he / she receives it. It is to be presented to the Captain whenever the crew member wishes to use the bathroom (head) or water fountain, or whenever the crew member wishes to leave the ship for reasons of his / her own choosing. Only after the Captain has given permission (and I reserve the right to refuse permission), and only after I have punched the crew member’s HFCC can the crew member leave the ship.
The HFCC is valid for only five punches per semester. A new HFCC will be issued at the start of the second semester.
An HFCC that is torn or scribbled upon is thereby rendered invalid. A crew member attempting to use someone else’s HFCC will automatically lose all head and fountain privileges for the rest of the year.
If a crew member hands in an unused HFCC at the end of the first semester, his / her second quarter grade will be raised by one percentage point. If a crew member hands in an unused HFCC at the end of the second semester, his / her fourth quarter grade will be raised by one percentage point.
Note: When requesting permission to use the bathroom, a crew member must say: “Captain Father, request permission to use the head.”
I take great pride in keeping the Stella Maris in ship shape. I expect my crew to do their part to help. Please do not litter or put gum wads anywhere other than in the waste can. Eating and drinking are prohibited while on deck.
My hearing is the sense on which I rely the most. To me, unnecessary noise is both distracting and annoying. Imagine what it would be like if someone were continually to flash a bright light in your eyes. That is how noise affects your Captain. I am literally blinded by an excess of sound.
Therefore as Captain, I shall allow only one person at a time to speak while class is in session. If I am speaking, I do not wish to hear anyone else talking. If one of the crew has been called upon to speak, please do him / her the courtesy of not talking.
If you have raised your hand and it is obvious that I do not see it, then you may, by all means, say: “Excuse me, Captain Father, ¼”
I am very hurt indeed when I sense that certain crew members are taking advantage of my poor eyesight. The Captain has feelings too. Please try to remember this.
If a fellow crew member is causing trouble that I cannot detect, thereby contributing to a disturbance aboard ship, I would expect the more mature and enlightened crew members to report that individual to Student Affairs. I myself need not know the names of any persons involved. The activities of the FBI (Father Bernard’s Informants) have been and continue to be very helpful. Honest and well-intentioned informants are, in the Captain’s opinion, performing a noble and praiseworthy service. The British statesman Edmund Burke (d. 1797) put the matter quite nicely: “The only thing required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing and say nothing.”
If trouble persists, a visit by the Admiral may be deemed necessary. Such visits are, to say the least, most regrettable.
Love Notes and other Missives
Love notes and other such missives are contraband. In other words, the writing and passing of clandestine messages is prohibited aboard ship. The Captain claims the right to seize and confiscate any such messages and to show them to whomsoever he sees fit. Any crew member who resists the Captain in this matter will be considered defiant and will be disciplined accordingly.
Instead of using a textbook, I prefer to give my crew copies of my own typewritten notes. Do not be too concerned if the material in these notes is a bit over your head. Theology is not something you grow out of. It’s something you grow into. So don’t be intimidated by my notes. And please feel free to share them with your parents (or guardians).
I make it a habit of punching holes in all the notes and handouts I give you. You will no doubt want to preserve this wealth of information for your future use. Therefore each crew member is to have a three-ring notebook (i.e. binder). The notebook must be ample (at least an inch thick) and sturdy (i.e. with an unbendable cover).
Bring your notebook to class every day, unless I tell you otherwise. Also, you may wish to write your name on every page of notes I give you.
I reserve the right to inspect your notebook at any time and without warning. Failure to pass notebook inspection will result in a “Captain’s detention.” During the time in detention, the offending crew member will swab the deck (sweep the floor), scrape barnacles (remove gum wads), or perform other tasks deemed appropriate by the Captain.
All hand–written material submitted to the Captain (homework, quizzes, tests, examinations, etc.) is to be written in conventional blue or black ink. Points will be deducted if anything other than conventional blue or black ink is used.
Crew members are to have at least two pens with them at all times so as to be prepared for quizzes, tests, and note taking. The Captain is not in the business of lending pens!
Homework assignments (usually in the form of essays) are rare aboard ship. I simply do not have the eyesight required to read large amounts of written material.
Essays must be typed and double spaced. In typing essays, crew members are to use only one side of a page. Points will be deducted for double-sided typing, for sloppiness, and for errors in spelling and grammar.
Essays consisting of more than one page must be stapled. Do not take it for granted that you will be able to use the Captain’s stapler.
Quizzes are generally announced at least one day before they are given. If, however, the crew is somewhat mutinous, quizzes may become unannounced instruments of justice. Occasionally (if the seas are calm), quizzes may be given on a take-home basis.
If all goes well, four period-long Theology tests will be given during the first semester. Three more such tests will be given during the second semester.
Tests will usually be scheduled for days 1, 3, or 5. Advance notice will be given.
Failing a Quiz or Test
In the event a crew member fails a quiz or test, he or she may, under normal circumstances, receive a passing grade if the following conditions are met:
The crew member must get the quiz or test signed by a parent or guardian.
The crew member must arrange to meet with the Captain at a time chosen through mutual agreement.
During the aforesaid meeting, the crew member must present the signed quiz or test to the Captain and correctly answer a specified number of questions put to him or her by the Captain.
Do not think the Captain has instituted the above policy because he happens to love his crew. (Such indeed may or may not be the case!) This benevolent “make up” policy serves merely to underscore the fact that a crew member fails or passes Sophomore Theology through his or her own deliberate choice. There is no reason whatsoever why a crew member should receive a failing grade on a quiz or test unless he or she chooses to fail.
Note: If a crew member commits an infraction and / or earns a detention on two or more occasions during a given quarter, he / she automatically forfeits for that quarter any previously gained “make up” points as well as the privilege of gaining additional “make up” points.
A written examination will be given at the end of each semester. Each exam will consist of one hundred true-or-false questions. There will be no exemptions. All crew members must take the Captain’s semester examinations.
Class participation will have an effect on your grade. This is accomplished through a system of “slashes.”
Every time a crew member participates in class in a meaningful fashion, he / she earns one “slash” from the Captain. When the crew member has earned fifteen such slashes, he / she is given the privilege of meeting the Great Sea Turtle. Thereupon his / her quarter grade will be raised by one percentage point.
Do Not Put Down Your Oar Until We Drop Anchor
In the vast plentitude of my beneficence, I, the Captain, shall give no crew member a grade lower than 67 for the first quarter, a grade lower than 65 for the second quarter, and a grade lower than 63 for the third quarter. I shall, however, strive to give a crew member EXACTLY the fourth quarter grade he / she deserves, even if it is necessary to petition the Admiral to do so!
Sailors are known for their “colorful” vocabulary. Not so aboard the Stella Maris! As Captain, I shall make every effort to avoid profanity, put-downs, and abusive language. I shall expect my crew to do the same.
Profanity, put-downs, and abusive language have no place in a Catholic school. No one has the right to say such things. No one deserves to hear such things.
Remember Proverbs 12:18: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
The Silence of the Seas
There shall be no unnecessary talking or noise during quizzes, tests, and examinations. The Captain will, however, honor legitimate questions at any time.
In an attempt to boost ship’s morale, the Captain may call for the playing of a game known as “Silence of the Seas.” The rules of this game are as follows:
If the crew is able to maintain absolute silence (legitimate questions excluded) from the moment the Captain says “NOW” until the time he says the words “AT EASE,” the Captain will raise their quarter grades by one percentage point. If, on the other hand, the silence is broken even once, the crew does not gain the extra point.
Note: It is up to the Captain to determine the genuineness of such noises as “coughs” or “sneezes.”
Note also: The Captain reserves the right to trick crew members into talking or making noise. To this end, he can and will employ means of the most devious sort. Be on guard! The Captain has many tricks up his sleeve. When playing Silence of the Seas, he is not to be trusted.
Strike the Bell
It sometimes happens that, through prolonged contact with the crew, the Captain’s own language begins to deteriorate into a kind of incoherent babbling. Unnecessary fillers (e.g. “like,” “ah,” “um,” “you know”) find their way into almost every utterance made by the Captain. Such verbiage is altogether unbecoming for any human being, let alone an officer in His Majesty’s service. To remedy this most unfortunate state of affairs, the Captain may resort to a game called “Strike the Bell.” Here is how the game is played.
The Captain appoints an Officer of Language (OL), to whom he gives a small bell. Every time the Captain says “ah” or “um,” or else uses the words “like” or “you know” in an inappropriate way, the OL gets to ring the bell. If the OL strikes the bell ten or more times in a given class period, the crew’s quarter grades receive an increase of one percentage point. It pays to listen to the Captain.
Sharks and Sushi
Crew members who have never committed an infraction and / or earned a detention are affectionately known as “sushi.” The rest of the crew (i.e. those who have committed infractions and / or earned detentions) are likewise referred to as “sharks.” Thus the Stella Maris, when she begins her yearly voyage on the high seas, has a crew consisting entirely of sushi. Alas! As her journey progresses, more and more of her crew are inevitably transformed into sharks. (During the fateful voyage of 2002 / 2003, eighty-four percent of the crew underwent this unfortunate transformation!)
The Captain issues a challenge: Any crew member who perseveres in maintaining his / her sushi status throughout the whole year will receive a two percent increase to his / her fourth quarter grade. He / she will also receive the Captain’s special keychain. Good behavior reaps blessings, not only in the world to come, but also, occasionally, in this world as well.
Here is a piece of ancient Chinese wisdom: “If you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap. If you want to be happy for a day, go fishing. If you want to be happy for a year, get married. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, help people.”
Bethlehem Catholic High School requires sophomores to perform at least fifteen hours of voluntary (unpaid) service. Failure to comply with this requirement will render a crew member ineligible for promotion.
Let there be no grumbling among the crew regarding service hours! Just as naval officers require their crews to perform various drills, so Bethlehem Catholic requires you to do service. Service to others is, to say the very least, an exercise of the heart. “Service is love in work clothes.”
Further details concerning service projects will be forthcoming, but please note the following:
Service projects should have as their focus those outside one’s own family. The Captain takes it for granted that his crew are already helping their families as a matter of principle.
The Captain will be especially gratified if crew members perform service in areas relating to health care, Pro-Life activities, or the elderly.
A crew member may not perform service for more than two organizations.
Every crew member must submit an approved service project proposal(s) to the Captain by November 1. Proposals must be signed by a parent or guardian and by the supervisor. If, by the end of the second quarter, a crew member fails to turn in an approved service project proposal, his / her second quarter grade will be lowered by one percentage point. If, by the end of the third quarter, a crew member has still not submitted an approved service project proposal, his / her third quarter grade will be lowered by one percentage point. If, after having submitted an approved service project proposal, a crew member decides to change his / her service project, that crew member must submit another approved proposal, and his / her grade for the current quarter will be lowered by one percentage point.
Completed service projects (verification forms and reflection paper) are due on tax day (i.e. April 15).
Service projects (verification forms and reflection paper) will receive a grade equivalent to one major test grade for the fourth quarter.
If a sushi fails to submit his / her approved service project proposal(s) on time, he / she will thereby forfeit his / her sushi status and thus become a shark. The same is true for a sushi who does not hand in his / her service project on time.
Latin is the universal language of the Roman Catholic Church. You will therefore be expected to learn various Latin prayers and expressions during the course of the year. Your grasp of Latin, however, is not essential to your doing well in my class. It will, nevertheless, enable you to earn bonus points.
In the event of absence, crew members are responsible for making up any work (homework, quizzes, tests, etc.) they have missed. I repeat: It is the crew member’s responsibility to complete all academic work missed during all absences. This means that you should:
Notify the Captain in advance if you know you are going to be absent.
See the Captain as soon as possible after you return from an absence.
Upon the crew member’s return to school, the following time-table will be in effect:
Absence of one (1) day – All homework, quizzes, tests, etc. must be handed in / taken the day of return.
Absence of two to five (2 – 5) consecutive days – The crew member will have five (5) days to make up all missed work. The Captain will give a failing grade to any member of the crew who fails to comply with this time limit.
Extended Absences (more than 5 days) –
Parents / guardians must contact Fr. Peter Hosak, at 610-866-0791, ext. 47, to arrange for assignments.
Upon return to school, the crew member must meet with the Captain to make arrangements for make-up work / tests.
Remember: YOU (not the Captain) are responsible for making up missed or incomplete work.
Note: The Captain reserves the right to deduct penalty points from any academic work that is late, regardless of the reason for the lateness.
Note also: If, during a given quarter, a crew member completes all academic work on time (i.e. without lateness of any kind), his / her grade for that quarter will be raised by one percentage point. It pays to be on time.
If a member of my crew is caught cheating, CAPITA VOLVERINT (HEADS WILL ROLL). See the Student Handbook.
As a priest, I find it very difficult (if not impossible) to remember what penitents tell me in confession. As a teacher, I find it very difficult (if not impossible) to forget the names of those crew members whom I have caught cheating in the past. I wish I could forget, but I just can’t.
Cheating is a form of lying. As a wise man once said, “A lie can take you from one end of the world to the other, but it can never bring you back home.”
Asking questions is a very good way to learn. As a matter of fact, I, as your teacher, learn more from your questions than you would imagine. So do not hesitate to ask questions. The uncertainties you raise are most likely shared by other members of the crew. We may all learn something.
The Captain does, however, object to questions put forth in a rude or accusatory tone or in needless anger.
If you play fair with me, I shall be more than fair with you.
May God grant us a grace-filled voyage through the ocean of Theology. There may be an occasional squall. But take courage. “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”
Be happy in your work.
Bene remiga et vives.