Some people have, in the past and recently, written me asking me just what I meant when I said, on Charley’s “About Meaghan” page, that I graduated from high school without having taken a single class there. Some people are under the impression that I got a GED or something. But it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.
I grew up attending a third-rate rural school that wasn’t even attached to a particular town; it just absorbed students from various tiny towns in the county. By eighth grade I had developed serious academic and social problems. I was bullied a lot by other kids and by one teacher in particular, who if you ask me should never have been allowed to teach. I recall that he once flew into a rage during class and screamed obscenities at another student before chucking her out. The bullying from kids was very unpleasant and relentless, and I simply had no idea how to fight back. I still don’t. Anyway, by the end of eighth grade I was flunking all my classes and coming home crying every second day. I made it clear that I was not going to go back to school after the summer vacation and my parents were like, “Okay.” In retrospect, dropping out was the best on a list of bad options.
I spent a year moping around the house saying very little to anyone except Robert Cormier, to whom I confided a great deal (rather more than I should have). Then Dad got the bright idea to have me start auditing classes at the Ohio State University’s Lima campus where he works. This was reasonably successful. I was, at least, getting intellectual stimulation, I performed reasonably well in my classes, the other students mostly regarded me as a curiosity and nobody bothered me. I met Michael while we both were attending classes there. (We were in a class together and got into an argument before class started, about the death penalty I think, and he decided I was a smart person worth getting to know. I decided he was a jerk and I was never going to speak to him again. The rest is history.)
When I was sixteen, before what would have been my senior year in high school, Dad got an even more brilliant idea: I would re-enroll at the aforementioned third-rate school district. Then I would immediately enroll in their Academy Program, where you could take college classes for both high school and college credit at OSU-Lima, and the school district would pay for your tuition and books. This had never been done before, I think in the entire state of Ohio, I mean a homeschooled student enrolling in the Academy Program. And it was never done again, at least not at my district: after I did it they changed the rules so students had to be enrolled for a minimum of one year before they could sign up for the Academy Program.
So I spent my last year of “high school” doing much the same thing as before, except that now I had an actual GPA. I was anxious to get the heck out of dodge though, and applied at four different colleges, three of which accepted me. The closest one was three hours away. At the end of the academic year my parents more or less forced me to attend my high school graduation ceremony. They wanted to see their daughter walk down the aisle; I wanted nothing to do with it. They won; I went.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I was able to graduate high school without having taken any classes there.
Like I said, it’s complicated.