Skill Focus: Summarize & Paraphrase
Episode #5: The Office
Mrs. Paisley’s office is filled with sunlight. She keeps potted plants of various sizes throughout the front office of the school. This room has bright yellow walls and is filled with vibrant greens and purples and oranges. It almost doesn’t feel like a school, much less a principal’s office. But the cheerfulness of Mrs. Paisley’s color palette is misleading; they are definitely in trouble.
Principal Paisley rounds her desk and takes a seat. “Pardon the pun, but … sigh … spill it.”
All at once, the three spill their guts into a braided stream of consciousness.
“Coach Wilson told us …”
“A ghost attacked us ...”
“… and then he flew over me!”
“… chasing him with Zolivia and Morgan”
“My mom brought me here today …”
“… to find the statue …”
“… painting the mural for art, and we …”
“… follow the clues!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, guys!” Mrs. Paisley’s head is spinning by this point. “All the details are coming at me at once. I need one of you to tell me, from the beginning, what is going on here. And try to keep your story straight because I thought I even heard one of you say you were attacked by a ghost and that Coach Wilson flew.”
Morgan and Arty, of course, turn their eyes to Zolivia. She’s always the speaker of the house, so it’s probably best if she does the talking.
“Keep in mind,” Principal Paisley adds. “The longer you are in here, the harder it will be to clean up all that paint in the hall.”
Zolivia steps to the forefront. “Yes, ma’am. Here’s the truth: When we saw that the statue in the cafeteria was missing, we went backstage to see if someone hid it there. Then we were attacked by someone lurking behind the curtains! That person clearly also messed with our paints. You know Arty and I would never make a mess like that. We’ve been working on this mural design for months!”
Zolivia manages to rattle off all this in a single breath. When she runs out of air, she makes an audible gasp, then time stops. They all stand frozen, waiting, watching Mrs. Paisley for any reaction at all. Did she turn into a statue? What is she doing over there? Do we stay, or—
“I hear what you’re saying,” she finally responds. “Can you tell me more about this attack?”
Arty jumps forward. “Mrs. Paisley, I was just putting my arm out like this,” he begins a dramatic reenactment. “At the very moment my fingertips brushed against the black, velvet curtain, a male figure dressed in old-timey garb leaped out over me. He was actually flying! He knocked me down so fast that I didn’t even know what was happening! It was seriously a ghost!”
“Then he tried to drop a stage light on both of us. We could have been killed!” Morgan adds this with a flourish to complement Arty’s theatrical presentation.
“Is this true?” Mrs. Paisley looks unamused and ready to start a full-fledged investigation. “So you’re telling me there’s a broken stage light? Who is responsible for this? And don’t say a ghost …”
She gazes at a clock on the wall for a moment to think. The clock has a decal swirling around it that has a quote: “The most you can spend on any child is time.”* She relaxes her shoulders a bit, channeling her understanding.
“Tell you what. I believe you that the paint isn’t your fault, but I am super concerned about this light. Those are expensive. Why don’t y’all get started on cleaning the hall while I go look at the light? At the very least, we can all be productive at the same time, so we can get this sorted out efficiently. BUT … you are not off the hook. When I come back to the office after we finish locker pick up, I want the full story: who’s involved, what happened, who’s responsible, and how you plan to resolve everything. I am only going easy on you because I know you will have the entire hall sparkling by the end of the day, yes?”
“Yes, ma’am!” Zolivia is quick to accept this mercy. “Immaculate!”
* Chali 2na with Jurassic 5. Quality Control, "Contribution." Interscope Records, 2000.