What’s cool in school?

Published 9:14 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

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There is no “ctrl” button on Chuck Norris’s computer. Chuck Norris is always in control.

Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

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Chuck Norris’ hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.

Chuck Norris can eat just one Lay’s potato chip.

Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.

Chuck Norris can touch MC Hammer.

Apple pays Chuck Norris 99 cents every time he listens to a song.

— ChuckNorrisFacts.com

Sophomore David Grano was first to answer, but he knew his answer spoke for many in the room.

“Twilight,” he said succinctly.

That was his response to a request from a reporter who asked the room full of students: “What’s cool in school?”

The question was posed to students recently at Albert Lea High School. If anyone doubts the power of a good book, even on this generation allegedly hell bent against reading, they should talk to Grano.

“If you suck, you’re really cool, actually,” said Grano, as he grinned at his play on words and his classmates’ delayed reactions to it.

As expected, the answers varied — including study parties and “little kiddie” school folders — but the runaway winner for most popular response was the teenage vampire books series by Stephanie Meyer.

Granted, the fact the movie version of the first book, “Twilight,” recently arrived in theaters adds to its cool factor among teens.

“Many kids have attended the movie more than once,” said junior Ally Herbst.

But Grano said most of the people going to the movie have already read the book. In fact, sophomore Amy Vandenheuvel said some parts of the movie will only make sense if you’ve read the book, giving book readers the feel they are part of a secret society.

“Edward Cullen (main character) is so hot, and it is such a good love story,” said junior Morgan Stadheim.

Technology was a force in this non-scientific survey: Facebook, Myspace, iPods, plus cell phones and text messaging.

“I gotta have the latest thing,” said freshman Andrew Esse, who has a Rocker cell phone, but wishes he had the LG Rhythm.

Technology truly has enhanced — or depreciated — communication, depending on one’s viewpoint. Herbst pointed to Facebook as her source for information, and Stadheim said if information shows up on Facebook it must be true.

“It’s where people get a lot of their information about what’s going on,” Herbst said. “It’s sweet to creep new photos.”

Junior Katelyn Anderson added “Yeah, you have to ’creep the ’book,” referring to looking at other people’s photos on Facebook.

Freshman Graham Christopherson said iPods are by far the best MP3 players, and sophomore Josh Piper likes the cool new features Apple consistently releasing on its newer iPods, including touch screen and games.

But it’s not all technology all the time. Junior Derek DeVries of the DeVries’ family chosen to participate in “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” this fall, with the help of junior Meghan Sipple, have made duct tape a cool tool.

“You can make stuff and fix stuff,” said freshman Brady Falk of duct tape, “and there are all different colors.”

Sophomore Kyle Larsen said he couldn’t classify it as cool, but found it unique and interesting to see Albert Lea in the national spotlight twice in one week.

“We’re on TV for the worst and best of human nature,” said Larsen, referring to the case of alleged elder abuse at the Good Samaritan Society last spring and the taping of an episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in Hayward Township in October.

Junior Stephanie Ferguson said students are getting together for what she called “study parties.”

“It’s not just getting nagged by your teachers,” Ferguson said. “You get to learn the material with your friends.”

Check this out: Ferguson is not referring to some new Web site, www.studyparties.com (doesn’t exist), or even referring to students helping each other study via Instant Messaging. Study parties are actually human teenagers sitting in the presence of other teens, helping each other study for upcoming tests.

Of course, such a study party requires leaving one’s home and possibly even human-to-human interaction, something studies show is not as cool as it used to be. But with that in mind, somewhere behind the overwhelming coolness of teenage vampires books and movies, but somewhere safely ahead of Chuck Norris jokes, is another out-and-about activity: Attending sporting events.

Numerous people interviewed pointed to the increased school-age crowds at sporting events this school year.

“It’s a way to be involved in your school and show support,” said sophomore Danielle Howe.