Pre-texting students used to pass notes: samples from the vault

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Photo by Calan Szmyd

Math teacher Rich Urbatchka holds confiscated notes he’s collected since 1995.

In the ancient times before texting, students had a different way to secretly communicate during class. Note passing was the best form of communication without the teacher noticing. However, a few unlucky students faced ultimate embarrassment when a teacher caught them in the act of passing notes.

Math teacher Richard Urbatchka is notorious for intercepting and collecting student notes. In fact, Urbatchka has a whole filing cabinet designated for confiscated notes. Although he never reads the notes to the class, he keeps the notes to be read later. His collection is full of at least one hundred notes going back to 1995.

The topics of the notes vary from weekend plans to discussing extreme boredom. However, most of the notes were from young lovers desperate to communicate.

John from the freshman class of 1995 wrote to his girlfriend, “You were very lovable last night.”

Heather wrote to her boyfriend, “ Hello you sexy thing!”

The notes also give some insight on the conversations between best friends. Faith from the freshman class of 1996 wrote to her friend, “I think you and John are such a cute couple! So I hope he dumps Tessa!”

One of the notes Urbatchka intercepted was a planned joke. It read, “How’s the wife and kids? They got slaughtered by a cereal [original spelling] killer…” Later the note read, “I have ordered more kids and a wife by mail and they should be here by Monday.”

Instead of listening to a lecture, many students find relief from their boredom by describing their boredom in a note. One student from 1997 wrote, “I’m writing this while Mr.Urbatchka is talking away. I think he is talking about dotted lines or something”

Sara complained about pre-algebra in a note that read, “I got bored in Pre-Algebra especially with Mr.Urbatchka teaching. I never listen but I have to take notes or he gets mad because he can tell when I’m not.”

One student tried to boost her grade by writing, “I love math. It’s my favorite subject and Mr.Urbatchka is my favorite teacher. He is so cool.”

Because the new form of communication is texting, note passing is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, Urbatchka has very limited opportunities to add to his collection. “Most of the note passing is done by texting, so I haven’t had any recent entries,” said Urbatchka.