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Unruly Student Grew Up to be President

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on September 13, 2003


3 weeks of Sheen was enough
By Roz Young

            As I think over my career as a teacher, I really missed one opportunity to help a student.
            The name of the one I missed out on was Ramon Estevez.
            Ramon was in my ninth-grade class in Room 422 at Stivers High School for a few weeks. After a few days with him in my room, I will say that every day I looked with hope for his name to be on the absence list. He was the most mischievous boy I ever had in any of my classes.
            I was always after him to get rid of his chewing gum. In the old days - and this was the old days - teachers fought a relentless battle against chewing gum. Nobody was allowed to chew gum in school.
            Now the wastebaskets in our school at Stivers were metal, and Ramon used to go up to the wastebasket, take out his wad of chewing gum, drop it into the wastebasket and at the same time kick the basket so that it sounded as if he had dropped five pounds at least into the basket. This caused all the other kids in the class to laugh.
            One day I came into the room and found Ramon already there. I started on getting rid of his chewing gum first, and then turned to see what he had written on the blackboard. Printed there in large letters was `Help stamp out Old Lady Young.'
            I don't know why I did this, but I went to the door, opened it and then came back in. `Ramon, somebody wants you in the hall,' I said.
            This made Ramon very important in his view. He walked with his special Ramon walk to the door and went out. In a minute or so, he came back in. `There isn't anybody out there,' he said. `Who wants me in the hall?'
            `I do,' I said.
            He decided he would much rather stay in the room than out in an empty hall.
            I had planned to have a spelling lesson that day and began to give out the words.
            `Who wrote that on the blackboard?' asked Ramon.
            `I suspect you know very well who wrote that,' I said, taking an eraser to it.
            I gave out a few more words.
            Paper wads began buzzing through the air when I tried to go on with the lesson.
            `Ramon,' I said, `sit down and be quiet.'
            Telling that boy to be quiet was an invitation for activity on his part. The rest of the kids in the room were a great audience, and he knew it. He played it to the hilt.
            The period finally ended and as the class left the room, I prayed to God that his name would be in the absence list the next day.
            The next morning I looked for his name on the absence list. It wasn't there. My heart sank. That meant he would be in class again.
            We had royal battles every day for the few weeks he remained at Stivers.
            One morning I saw his name on the `withdrawn' list. I couldn't believe my good fortune. He had withdrawn from school. Caloo, callay!
            I didn't care why he had withdrawn. I learned later that he transferred to Chaminade High School, and I wished them well.
            It has been a long time since Ramon Estevez spent a few brief weeks at Stivers High School. I suppose I could have tried to reach out to him, but I didn't.
            I saw him the other night on a TV program. He talked at great length about his career. Somebody nobler than I had touched him and made a great difference in his life. One of the things he did when he became an actor was change his name to Martin Sheen.
            He has made a successful career acting as the president of the United States on the West Wing. He also has been successful in other television shows and movies.
            He didn't mention a word about going for a few weeks to Stivers. That's all right with me.
            Help stamp out Old Lady Young, indeed!
            Oh, well, good boy, Martin. Keep up the good work.