What is a Hall Pass?

This morning, as Noah and I were on the train, we passed a poster for the new movie “Hall Pass.”

“What’s a hall pass?” Noah asked.

“It’s a pass you need to get when you are in public school, to get permission to go to the bathroom.” I said.

Noah looked at me with a puzzled face as if to say, “Why would I need a pass to go to the bathroom?”

I then related to him a story I remembered hearing as a child. It may be some kind of urban legend, but this is how I remember it. A boy, who is known to constantly be asking to go to the bathroom raises his hand to the teacher.

“What is it now?” asks the teacher.

“I do not feel well. I need to go to the bathroom.” says the student.

“You can wait until lunch.” says the teacher.

A few minutes later, the boy raises his hand again.

“I really do not feel well.” he says.

But the teacher refuses him once again thinking that he is exaggerating.

Finally, a third time, the boy gets up from his seat and walks to the front of the classroom.

“I really do not feel well.” he says with a moan.

Before the teacher can get a word out, the boy vomits all over the floor in front of her desk.

This story was circulated by students. I may have heard it from my older brother as he liked to tell stories that had vomit in them. I believe it has been told and retold as a cautionary tale.

Noah has no idea why anyone would need a hall pass. When he needs to go to the bathroom, he goes. Seems logical. But I did explain to him that in public school, they give hall passes because you need to justify to a guard or school official, why you are in the  hall. Some kids were known to take the hall pass, and not come back for a long long time. In an institution, where you are treated like inmates, this is how it goes.

The advertised film, it seems, has nothing to do with this subject. I am including the image anyhow, because it prompted this whole conversation between me and my son.

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One Comment on “What is a Hall Pass?”

  1. We’ve had similar discussions with my daughter, who has never known anything but the family atmosphere, high-discipline and low-bureaucracy environment of Catholic school. Very different culture from Free School, but alike in being light years away from the “inmates” model.


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