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Punch Drunk: a Rose By Any Other Name

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I’ve always felt that the ultimate goal to which one should aspire is happiness. But running a very close second is getting something named after you.

Whether that something is a street or a park or a scholarship or even a sandwich — it doesn’t matter. Having your name on something — and having people see that your name is on something — is a form of validation. Validation that many of us badly want. Especially us media types. Just look at 8 News anchor Juan Conde. Total glory boy.

So last week, out of the clear blue sky, I got word that an area school was renamed after me. That’s right, Chesterfield County’s Robious Middle School was to henceforth be named Jack Lauterback Middle. Having long since given up on the happiness goal, this was spectacular news, especially given that I attended Robious.

Before you pull your child from the school and start a letter-writing campaign to your congressman, who by the way is Rep. Dave Brat in that district, let me explain. I recently spoke with two English classes there, striking up quite a rapport with the kids and even attending their slam poetry night at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. For some reason, the kids there look up to me. I can’t explain it.

One day on the radio, I joked that they should rename the school after me because of all that I’d done for these kids, which admittedly has been very little. Some of the students took this to heart and then took it upon themselves to change the Robious Middle School sign out front to Jack Lauterback Middle. Their teacher then sent me pictures, which I immediately posted to Facebook so that all of my old middle-school friends could see how awesome I’d become.

Impressing people who you barely knew in middle school is another way of validating your sad existence. Trust me on that one.

Regarding this name change, first of all, I just want to say that it’s an honor. To have a school named after me and rightfully join local dignitaries such as Thomas Jefferson, Maggie Walker and the James River is what dreams truly are made of.

Now that it’s officially my school and now that I’m the headmaster of J. Lauterback Middle School — I shortened it to J. Lauterback Middle — things are going to change. Our antiquated systems of learning need revamping and I’m the guy to do that. Hear me out.

• At my school, every day is now a half day. No more of these six-hour marathons of learning. They’re too long. Three hours a day is plenty. Maybe even two. The young mind needs rest.

• Learning is now optional. This is exciting. For too long, we’ve been making our children do valueless activities, like light Bunsen burners, or read books, when really, we should be letting them decide what they want to do. What will bring value to them? If that answer is playing “NBA 2K17” while eating their bodyweight in Skittles, then so be it.

• There will be no more disciplinary actions for kids who misbehave. Again, we must let the children stand on their own. Instead of meddling adults meting out justice, we will let them decide the punishments for their peers. It’ll be very “Lord of the Flies” in that respect.

• Despite it being my school now, and my progressive rules, I probably won’t ever show up. Maybe occasionally when we have passing dignitaries or if it’s pizza day in the cafeteria. But usually, I won’t be there to supervise. I’m a very busy, important man. That’s why they named a school after me.

• Lastly, we won’t be pledging allegiance to only the American flag anymore. Instead it will be a picture of me, holding books and looking scholarly, in front of an American flag. Sort of like a Kim Jong-un type situation, but not at all like that. Calm down, parents!

I envision I’ll get some resistance to these changes, as any great, mostly absentee visionary would. You think Robert Bunsen didn’t catch any flack when he was like, “Hey let’s have open flames all over the place and then just trust that this place won’t burn to the freakin’ ground”? Of course not, but that flack didn’t deter him from burning many places to the ground.

Unsurprisingly, before I was able to implement any of my new regulations, the letters spelling out Jack Lauterback Middle were taken down from the sign. Turns out the kids don’t have the authority to change the name of their school, which seems unfair to me. Guess it’s back to the drawing board.

Hmm.

Maybe I should work on befriending a sandwich shop owner. S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at jackgoesforth.

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