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He was in the third grade class I taught at school. My students were all dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, he had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional misconduct delightful.

Mark also talked incessantly. I tried to remind him that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much was the sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving. ‘Thank you for correcting me, Sister!’ I didn’t know what to make of it at first but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often. I made a novice-teacher’s mistake. I looked at Mark and said, ‘If you say one more word, I will tape your mouth shut!’ Ten seconds later Chuck blurted out, ‘Mark is talking again.’ I realized that since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I walked to my desk, opened the drawer and took out a roll of tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark’s desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room.

As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark, removed the tape and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, ‘Thank you for correcting me, Sister.’

The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the ‘new math,’ he did not talk as much in the ninth grade.

One Friday things just didn’t feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were growing frustrated with themselves — and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, but as the students left the room, each one handed me their paper.

That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ I heard whispered. ‘I never knew that meant anything to anyone!’ ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much!’

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, after I had returned from a vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, there was a slight lull in the conversation. My father cleared his throat. ‘The Eklunds called last night,’ he began. ‘Really?’ I said. ‘I wonder how Mark is.’ Dad responded quietly. ‘Mark was killed in Vietnam,’ he said. ‘The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend.’

The church was packed with Mark’s friends. After the ceremony Mark’s parents were there, waiting for me. ‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. ‘They found this on Mark. We thought you might recognize it.’ I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’

Mark’s classmates started to gather around us. Chuck smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’ John’s wife said, ‘John asked me to put his in our wedding album.’ Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ she said. ‘I think we all saved our lists.’

That’s when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

Adapted from ‘All the Good Things’ by Helen P. Mrosla

ВОПРОС 1: Mark Eklund …
1) was the most violent and disruptive pupil in class.
2) was a good-natured and sometimes mischievous child.
3) was an untidy boy who could easily upset lessons.
4) was the brightest student in the third grade.

ВОПРОС 2: In paragraph 2 ‘incessantly’ means …
1) impatiently.
2) disrespectfully.
3) endlessly.
4) intently.

ВОПРОС 3: The writer admits that the mistake she made in the classroom was …
1) typical of a tenderfoot teacher.
2) never repeated again.
3) something she regretted about.
4) harmful to her teaching career.

ВОПРОС 4: Mark and his class perceived the Чаре’ punishment …
1) aggressively.
2) with humour.
3) as a problem.
4) as offensive.

ВОПРОС 5: The writer realized the necessity of making ‘the good things list’
1) before the graduation ceremony for the students.
2) to fight anxiety before the test day.
3) in an attempt to deal with nasty behaviour.
4) to simplify the explanation of a math concept.

ВОПРОС 6: The technique used by the teacher …
1) didn’t help to motivate the students.
2) was appreciated by the students and their parents.
3) was borrowed from her colleagues.
4) facilitated learning and raised the students’ self-esteem.

ВОПРОС 7: As time went by, Mark and his classmates
1) forgot about ‘the good things list’.
2) held their student memories dear.
3) realized that their paths had diverged.
4) were out of touch with their teacher.

ВОПРОС 1: – 2
ВОПРОС 2: – 3
ВОПРОС 3: – 1
ВОПРОС 4: – 2
ВОПРОС 5: – 3
ВОПРОС 6: – 4
ВОПРОС 7: – 2