Always wear underwear

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In class we are reviewing prefixes, roots, and suffixes. I encouraged the students that knowing these would help them in understanding lots of vocabulary and help them with better comprehension because they would be able to make more informed guesses about what words mean.

Then Mr. Chapman, my high school Latin teacher, came to mind. I remember him as short and wearing a suit coat that always seemed too big for him. His hair was closely shaved which made his ears look too big. He always said that if a practical joke was good he wouldn’t get mad and so it encouraged all of us to plan some awesome event.

Each day when Mr. Chapman came into class he would lower the shade on the windows because the sun was blasting in. Before he got to class one day, we loaded the shade, which covered all three or four windows of the classroom, with the contents of several garbage cans we found in the hall. We also attached one end of the pullstring of the shade to his chair which was always centered in the front of the room.

When Mr. Chapman came into class, he walked to the window as usual, saw the pull to the shade stretched to his chair, looked questioningly at all of us, walked to his chair to release the pull which was wrapped around the chair leg, and voila! All the detritus from the garbage rained down from the window as the shade unfurled. He smiled and we knew he thought this was a good one.

Mr. Chapman had a terrific sense of humor and always had unique and mildly corny latinisms to share, including the one pictured above. While exploring prefixes, suffixes, and roots today (and inventing our own words), it only made sense to share one of my favorite Chapmanisms that he had written on his blackboard almost 50 years ago. The students liked it a lot too.

Here’s to Mr. Chapman wherever you may be. And to unfurling shades and latin words of wisdom. Semper! Semper!

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