As valedictorian for the first graduating class of The Stranger Preparatory Academy in 1991 (before it also became a "vocational school"), I feel that I am uniquely qualified to provide tips on achieving higher grades for today's Stranger Academy student. It has been a long, hard road to the pinnacle of my achievement thus far, and as the newly appointed manager of the shoe department at our local K-Mart, I feel it is my duty to help others achieve similar rewards.
• Utilize the latest technology. Don't attempt to write your own papers! In our brave new wired world, your teacher should appreciate the advanced research skills necessary for you to successfully locate a paper on the web. Remember, on the Internet, there's no such thing as plagiarism! Just insert several random grammatical errors and a few quotes from things your teacher said in class, and be sure to remove the website address from each page. Is the paper on a different topic than your assignment calls for? Not to worry. For example, a paper on the French Revolution could easily be substituted for an essay on the American Revolution, with the insertion of a few introductory sentences on how those froggies wanted to emulate the American Revolutionary SPIRIT, but subsequently failed.
• Reuse, recycle, and regenerate. As an environmentally conscious student, surely you are aware of the importance of recycling. Well, it's no different with paper assignments! Always save copies of your papers; you never know when you might be able to use them again. With a few adjustments, that paper you wrote last year on Machiavelli for your poli-sci class can be used again this year for your European history class. Just think how many trees you could save! Remember, sampling isn't only for rap stars. Just be sure to adjust the fonts after you cut and paste, so that your teacher doesn't wonder why half your paper is in Palatino and the other half in Geneva.
• Rediscover your family history. If, God forbid, some tight-assed teacher ever accuses you of plagiarism, explain with tears in your eyes that you are the first in your family to attend college, and you simply don't have the academic background to understand the concept of cheating. Or, if you come from a wealthy family, detail the intense pressure placed upon you by your family to do well in school, and explain (between gasping sobs) that you were only trying to please your demanding parents.
• Practice effective time management. In order to make time for extracurricular school spirit activities, the wise Stranger Academy student will use proven methods of cutting reading time. Cliff Notes are great in a pinch; just don't cite them in your bibliography. If you must look at an assigned book, read the introduction and conclusion, and perhaps a few sentences from the beginning and ending of several middle chapters. Then find one point to disagree with, and one to commend. When you raise these points in class, you will be displaying your balanced perspective and your thorough engagement with the text.
• Display your cultural awareness. Establish rapport with your teachers by speaking their language. Name drop as much as possible, both in class and in your papers. For literature classes, old standbys like Steinbeck and Hemingway are always worth brownie points, as are any Southern writers like Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor. For a touch of p.c. hipness, throw in Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, or Maya Angelou. Don't forget the classics; a few well-placed ancient Greek names can do wonders. Sprinkle your prose with the holy triad of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Don't be deterred by difficult Greek names, either; there are many handy mnemonic devices ("Euripides pants, I busta your face"). And by all means, don't limit these tactics to English classes! For example, in biology class, you could name your dead fetal pig "Marcus Aurelius" or "Diocletian." In physics class, refer to Stephen J. Hawking at every opportunity.
• Contribute to a sense of belonging. Always show an awareness of community in the classroom; school spirit is impossible to achieve otherwise. Community-building can often be achieved through communal efforts at grade improvement, such as sharing answers at exam time. And don't be afraid to help others; nobody likes a selfish grade-hoarder! If you're not in the lucky position of being able to bequeath your knowledge to a fellow student, try to locate classmates who are more "culturally advantaged" than you, and persuade them to share their "SPIRIT"! Do avoid, however, turning in the same paper or exam as another student in the same class, unless your teacher is elderly or commonly brings in flasks of "juice" and falls asleep at his or her desk. For maximum grade-earning potential, reach out to someone from the year ahead of you who has taken your teacher's class, and persuade them to divulge the content of exams—or better yet, to give you copies of their papers (for recycling purposes, of course).
Now that's academic SPIRIT!