The Cough Heard Round the World

“Cough, cough.” Ms Pryor turns around and scans the classroom until she finds my face. “Excuse me?” she looks at me, her eyes squinting with anger.

“Go to the office.” I had gotten in trouble plenty of times before in her class, but I had never thought that I would get sent to the office for coughing.

“But I didn’t do-”

“You know what you did! Office! Now!” I hear muffled laughter behind me.

“James! Outside, now!” Ms. Pryor snaps. She turns back to me, fuming with rage.

“Why are you still here? Go to the office, now!” I reluctantly stand up and walk to the office, not worried at all. There is no way I could get in trouble for coughing.


I open the door to the office and sit down at a chair next to the door. Mrs. Dipalma asks who sent me to the office, and I tell her that I coughed during a math test and Ms. Pryor sent me down.

“Why are you here for real?”

I tell her that I misbehaved during a test and Ms Pryor sent me down, which sounds a little bit more believable.

“Ms Burke will be right with you.”

She hands me a sheet of paper titled ‘REflection worksheet. I read the first question: Why were you sent to the office? I read up and down a long list of options and decide to circle other. on the line I write coughing.  What part of keller pride did you violate? I don’t know what ‘keller pride; is, so i decide not to circle anything. Mrs Burke walks in the room, and asks me to follow her.

“So, Dylan. I hear you were very disruptive in Ms Pryor’s room today. Want to tell me what happened?” she says, staring into my soul without blinking. I look away because i’m afraid I’ll burst into flames if i make eye contact for too long.

“Umm, not really. I coughed. She takes a break from her death ray vision to give me a look that says “Really? That’s the best you could come up with?”

“”Ms. Pryor says that you were making strange noises and being very disruptive during an important test.” I can tell that it will be hard to find someone that will believe my story. After all, why would a teacher get so upset about a cough?

“Follow me. We’re going to speak with Ms. Pryor.”


She walks me down to Ms. Pryor’s room, and waits with me outside until class is over. When the bell rings and everyone leaves, she has me walk in in front of her and closes the door behind us.

“So, Ms. Pryor, Dylan says that he coughed during a test and you directed him to my office.” Ms. Pryor responds very quickly, almost cutting off Mrs. Burke mid sentence.

“Dylan was a huge disruption in class. If you would like witnesses, talk to Jake Petrino and Jenna.” For some reason, as she says both of their names, she walks over to their desks and slaps their seat. Maybe for added effect.

“I coughed, but sure…” Ms. Pryor stares me like that was the most heretical thing she had ever heard, and only looks up when Mrs. Burke speaks again.

“Very well, I will talk to them. Dylan, you are dismissed.”


The next day at lunch, I talk to Jake in the lunch line.

“Did Mrs. Burke talk to you? What did you say?” Jake tells me that he told Mrs. Burke that I coughed and Ms. Pryor sent me down, and everyone thought it was funny.


“No problem.” I figure that if I don’t get called down by the end of the day, I should be fine.


The next day at lunch, I’m about to sit down and eat lunch when I hear something that sends a chill down my spine.

“Dylan Leone to the office please, Dylan Leone to the office.” Over the loudspeaker.

I slowly walk down to the office, nervous about what I know is about to happen. What did Jenna say? What if I’m being called down so Mrs. Burke can tell me I’m not in trouble? I open the door. Mrs. Dipalma looks up from her desk.

“You left your water bottle in Mr. Dolecki’s room.”

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14 thoughts on “The Cough Heard Round the World

  1. HAHAHAh. This is really funny. Anyways I really liked your ending. It was so…end-ey. And added humor to your story to top it off, and kind of shows how maybe the teacher may have overacted.
    Perseverance Respect Integrity Dynamic Excellence

  2. Dear Dylan,

    I liked how you described this situation from a very personal point of view and also the ending was amazing.

    David R

  3. Dear Dylan,
    I really liked your story and your title is very clever. The ending had me laughing and this honestly happened so much in 6th grade. People were sent to the office every minute. It takes guts to write about something like this and you did a great job.


    1. I agree with most of what you (and others) said, Johanna: Dylan wrote a good piece, with a great ending. But (and I spoke to Dylan about this after he wrote his post-assessment) it would have taken more “guts” to have offered a completely honest reflection regarding this incident. In other words, in situations such as the one Dylan described, one person is not to blame. Teachers are easy targets (figuratively and, unfortunately today, literally) and, speaking from experience, when a classroom of students is consistently disruptive and disrespectful, it becomes very frustrating, and, thus, easier to fall into the temptation of doing things people don’t go into the profession planning to do.

  4. Dear Dylan,

    This is probably the best story I’ve read yet. I remember you told me this story during math but you didn’t have time to finish it. I’m really happy you did. I’ve always wondered what it’s like in the office. You just gave me a clear vision. I loved how you used VERY descriptive lines of describing Mrs. Burke and the whole situation. “I look away because i’m afraid I’ll burst into flames if i make eye contact for too long.” HAHAHA. P.S. awesome ending

    -Parker B.

  5. Dear Dylan,

    I really enjoyed your story. It’s probably the best story I’ve read yet. I remember you told me this story in math but never finished it. I’m glad you did. Now I know what it’s like in the office. I loved the lines where Mrs. Burke came in the room and the derscribing words for the situation. Also great ending. It made me laugh so hard.
    -Parker B.

  6. Dylan,
    I really enjoyed the title it really wrapped me in and I also enjoyed how you used so many descriptive verbs. I also enjoyed the ending it really made the story pop.
    Caden S.

  7. Dylan this story is great! I was laughing as I read it. Unfortunately this kind of stuff is accurate. Also the ending was hilarious.
    -Sean Eustace
    P.s remember Jeremy from 5th grade?

  8. Dear Dylan,

    Great job! The story made me want to read on. One thing, just remember to double check your punctuation. But overall, great job!


  9. Good story, I remember that moment too, now I understand why she was let off work for being too strict. I like the “Burke staring into your soul part” It sounds like quite an accurate way of describing it

  10. Dylan,
    I though your story was very funny. One reason that made me keep reading was that I knew exactly what you were talking about with the exact occasion. I like how you included humor it really kept the story intact and enhanced it.

    -Jake Forte

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