Even if we don’t want to admit it, we all saw that one school presentation that drained our souls. Whether it was a class presentation or those god-awful assemblies, sometimes we cringe so hard that we barely have time to think “please stop.”
Someone in my class did a book report on the dictionary. The teacher was obviously super upset, but all of us students thought it was hilarious. We never heard the end of the presentation. It lasted maybe three minutes. Once the teacher clued in that he wasn’t joking and he went on to explain the “chapters,” she made him stop.
This was in college. Our bio finals were to present on any topic that was related to biology. A group was presenting on types of protection for relations. Not once did they refer to any body parts or fluids by their scientific names. So, yes; they literally had explicit terms on slides and read off of them. Everyone kept glancing over at our professor, who had this look like he was just constantly cleaning his glasses because he couldn't believe what he was witnessing. They got their butts handed to them on grading.
This wasn’t a presentation but during our school assemblies. We often had student performers, which were usually musically inclined individuals or theater kids doing a scene. Well, one kid decided to do a standup comedy routine… about a girl giving him a special treat. It was so awkward and the principal had to interrupt him.
It was my sophomore year English class, this kid was reading his essay in front of the class and started to stumble over some of the words. The teacher recognized the words and found the essay the kid plagiarized. They then started helping him read it and the kid didn’t understand what was happening. He just thanked the teacher and kept reading.
I went to school for computer security. In an introduction to the computer security course, we had to do a project on social engineering. A student decided that for his project, he was going to find a way to gain access to a chosen website.
He found a small local business website, identified that the domain was registered to an email address from a local ISP. Then, he called the ISP to reset the password, they asked him for his last four of his SSN, so he hung up. He found the phone number of the business, called them and pretended to be from the ISP offering three months free if the person did a five-question survey. They accepted and answered some questions, then he asked for the last four of the guy's SSN, which they gave.
He then called the ISP with the last four digits, got them to reset the password of the email account. He logged into the email and used it to get the domain registrar to send a password reset to the email, which he used to reset the password of the domain account (and deleted the email). He recorded all phone calls and screenshotted the whole process.
As he presented all, we kept expecting him to say, "But that would be illegal, so I didn't do X.” Yet, he went all the way. The professor finally stopped him after he said he logged into the domain registrar and told him to destroy everything and never speak of it again. I think the professor was a bit nicer than he could have been... potentially to the point of an accomplice (telling him to destroy evidence).
In history class, we all had to do a presentation about some sort of injustice in the world. One kid chose a prison camp for his topic. All his PowerPoint slides were photos of men being severely mistreated and forced to do inappropriate things. He got stopped on the second slide when the teacher interrupted to ask how many explicit pictures there were. The student showed the thumbnails of the slides and it was like 40 slides long. We were 13.
In Speech 101 in college, we had to pick a children's book and voice act each character. That was it. That was the entire assignment. Well, one student decided to take it to the next level. He chose a Berenstain Bears book and decided to not only do voice acting for every single one of the characters, but also act it out. It was physically uncomfortable to watch this guy scramble around the room and pretend to be bears and other animals. It was not well done; it was awful.
This was in our psychology class. Our final was to research and do a presentation on mental illness. One group chose necrophilia and started with the first slide by saying, “Let’s crack open a cold one.” The best part is, they got an A on the final. Technically, they met all the criteria and it’s a mental illness, so she had to give them the correct grade.
For an eighth-grade talent show, two girls sang the "Mr. Bledel Song.” Mr. Bledel was a good-looking, recently college-graduated teacher. The song was basically about how cute they thought he was. Even then, it was incredibly uncomfortable and I remember looking at the teacher’s face. He didn't seem very amused.
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The “smart” kid in the class was giving a deeply sourced PowerPoint presentation on religion in Europe. He opened up his files and proceeded to click on his project, which had the title of a racial slur. He said, “Clearly, I wasn’t really paying any attention when I named my file.” He gave the presentation, stuttering and sweating while we watch in utter disbelief. The word was sitting there on the top of the file heading the whole time. This was during a study abroad semester while attending a Cultural Communication class. He had to rot after that.
Some people left class for the day because of the incident. The teacher asked everyone to stay to talk about what happened and the guy broke down a bit. It was uncomfortable. Luckily for him, the class was ending within the next week or two, so I believe he took his exams and such outside of the classroom. Some students took to Facebook to oust him. I honestly don’t really remember seeing him much after that. I think the students in the program avoided him mostly.
It's me. I did this. To this day, I cringe about it, nearly 20 years later. I was 16 and in high school. My high school was going to do a spring talent show and I wanted to be in the talent show and show off. The problem was, my actual talents are not ones that I could show off at a talent show. So, I decided to try singing. I’ve never sung in my life and never had voice lessons.
I was in my prime weeb stage and chose an anime song to sing. I didn't know any actual Japanese, I had just memorized the lyrics from hearing the song so many times. Luckily, I didn't make it past auditions, but several people saw an overweight girl in a Sailor Moon shirt try to sing “Butterfly” despite having never done any singing or voice training ever in her life. It’s been nearly 20 years later and remembering it keeps me awake at night.
I remember when a friend of mine did a stand-up routine for a talent show. It, unfortunately, didn’t go over very well and I actually laughed for him because no one else was. At the end of the routine, his younger brother came up to me and thanked me for laughing because he didn't want to be the only one to fake it.
Back when I was in high school, a girl from an absurdly wealthy family gave a presentation on why the rich are just as oppressed as anyone. She was bold enough to do this in a normal public school in Kentucky where about 90% of the students were middle-class at best. You could feel the eyes rolling in that room.
When I was a ninth-grade student, we had to present the poems we made in English class. Most people wrote about embracing their culture, loving their friends, etc. But there was that one kid who recited a “lifestyle poem,” which compared fat people to beached whales and said that people who don’t work out will pass away before they’re 20.
In grade eight, my English teacher asked us to do a presentation in the form of propaganda. The examples she used included Hitler's campaign to brainwash Germans into thinking Jewish people were bad. So naturally, my group thought that propaganda equalled something bad. So, we made a presentation asking people to join a movement to ban obesity (and obese people). We didn't actually hate obese people (in fact, I was overweight at the time), we just thought the point of the assignment was to be provocative and brainwash the students with hatred.
Our teacher asked us to stop the presentation and said we were ostracizing. My project partner pointed out that she literally showed us propaganda as an example, but the teacher said regardless, our project was not appropriate for school. So we re-did the project, and this time our "propaganda" involved asking people to join a book club. Our English teacher was elated.
This was a Spanish class in college. If I remember correctly, I think the assignment was something like "talk about your best friend" or some such. It was just kind of a softball assignment so you could practice using the vocabulary. Well, one classmate's friend was evidently a friend with benefits. You’d think that would have stopped them, but no.
When I was in high school, my church youth group went to this church camp. For those uninitiated, Thursday nights are normally the really emotional nights. Well, this camp was different! Thursday night, the guy that started the camp came on stage and began giving a bunch of middle and high school boys and girls “the talk.” All I remember from that night was the quote, “Just because there’s a hole there doesn’t mean you have to stick something in it!”
I remember that this was an anti-bullying campaign. They spent most of the presentation explaining different types and ways to hurt people’s feelings and how bullying increased in school. As you can probably guess, everything got, like, ten times worse after the students became more “educated” on the subject.
This was a group project for one of my literature classes. There were five people. According to the rubric, everyone was supposed to have equal speaking parts. One of the members would just not stop talking. Half of their presentation was just her talking. The rest of her group members had like one or two slides each, and she had five or six. She would also interject into the other group member's parts to add her opinions. The look on my professor’s face screamed, "Just shut up already!" every time she talked.
We had an assembly in high school where the students that helped plan homecoming would announce the nominations for homecoming court. It always had a cute little theme and like a short skit involved. At one point, the audio they were using as the cue for the skit failed. They just kind of paused for technical difficulties, but this one girl from the planning committee started singing a random Disney song a capella while improvising a dance to go along with it.
She kept trying to get people to join in with her, but nobody did, and she eventually just kind of trailed off mid-song and started pouting that nobody would sing with her. Then once they got the audio fixed for the skit, she pouted and snapped the way through the rest of her lines, which made everything even more uncomfortable.
Us. We were to make a film retelling the story of Hamlet . It was supposed to be five minutes. Being the creative nutcases we were, we made a 22-minute film complete with a commercial break which made fun of prior books we had to read. Ophelia was a Jersey Shore floozy who refused to take her Prozac, Polonius was a gross Greek philosopher, and Hamlet was a depressed emo. Sword fights were video game based, with Mortal Kombat themes. We presented it to the class and were cut off after five minutes. We received an A-.
During nursing school, a guy decided to use My Little Pony figures as props to a seminar room of about 100 people. He told the class that he would refer to himself as his pony name for the duration — I don't remember what it was. Also, he wore a black leather trench coat and it was pretty hot in the room yet he never took it off.
A teacher asked up to compare the cells in our body to anything we can think of. Obviously, some students compared the parts of the human cell to schools, jails, libraries, normal things right? Well, this one student had a different idea. These were group projects, keep in mind. This girl managed to strong-arm her group to compare the human cell to the infamous webcomic Homestuck . She did this successfully. Not only did I feel dirty, but her group felt worse for having their names on it.
We had this senior talent show that a few male students could sign up for. (No idea why it was only guys, or how the few people even got nominated for it.) They all had to do their own act. Some sang, some danced, some put on a funny skit, the possibilities were endless. Each year, someone who never got told they weren't good at singing would end up on stage. One time, this guy did the evolution of boy band songs and it was just below average singing for 15 minutes straight.
This was in environmental science. For our final project, this one dude decided to do his project on global "cooling.” Buddy was up there for seven minutes, explaining to the class how the earth has been getting colder and colder and how it’s eventually going to cause problems to other species. The teacher was really passionate about this class and you could see her squirming in her seat the whole way through the presentation. His sources were online forums.
I was in a filmmaking class in high school. One group of guys did a parody of those Gatorade commercials where the athletes’ sweat is colored like Gatorade, but it was a sweaty guy making obscene gestures. Apparently, there was a Gatorade money shot, but the teacher just turned that off immediately before it got that far.
We were supposed to have Arnold Schwarzenegger come to our school sometime around 1999 or 2000. The principal was hyping it up for weeks. About four days before his arrival, it was announced on Friday that he wasn't coming. Fast forward to Monday during morning announcements and it was announced that he changed his mind and was coming to our school tomorrow.
Come Tuesday morning, everyone was excited and amped to meet The Terminator. A handful of parents even came with VHS copies of his movies, posters, etc. We were all taking our seats in the gym and the principal took the stage to make some announcements. Finally, she amped up his arrival, we lost our minds, and she said, “Here’s Arnie.”
It was the vice principal in a leather jacket holding a real piece, spending 30-40 minutes trying to hype us up for FCAT. All the while, they were doing the absolute worst impression I've ever heard. Once we realized Arnold wasn't there, people start shouting, screaming at the principals for lying to us, along with some of the parents who came to this. I hope someone has footage of this meltdown because I remember people having camcorders.
In my high school speech class, one assignment was to give a speech on your pet peeve. A rich girl gave hers on other people's fashion choices, including such gems as when shoes, bags, and belts don't match; wearing out of style clothing; and my personal favorite — wearing the same outfit more than once. In my entire life since, I don't know if I've ever seen anyone more out of touch with an audience. Or you know, reality.
This happened in 1985 at Green Bay Wisconsin, Bay View Middle School. I was in the sixth grade and each class used to perform a winter concert. Easily the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever seen was the eighth-grade football team singing "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas." They sang it in blackface and the teachers didn’t stop them.
I was once in a group that was being trained to proctor in-person tests in a college testing center. It included a heavy dose of “what to watch for.” It was basically a seminar in how to cheat better. Both of these examples remind me of reading about Colditz castle which was a German POW camp during WWII. They sent prisoners there who had escaped and been recaptured. Their intent was to “put all of the bad eggs in one basket” so they could be watched more closely. According to the author, who had been a POW there, this backfired. Lots of ambitious would-be escapees helping each other, benefitting from collective experience, and so on. He said it was like getting a graduate-level education in escape techniques.
There was a famous presentation at our school. A girl in our class running for student government referenced a hashtag that she was trying to make popular during her campaign speech to the whole school. The hashtag was something catchy about her having a big butt. There was a genuine collective "yikes" from the crowd when she said it. I don't think she got elected.
I'm glad this skit didn't stop because it was hilarious. One guy did a wrestling skit with different movie characters and my friend was the announcer. When Indiana Jones got into the ring my friend announced "Its the BDSM bad boy himself" and somehow that slipped by all the school staff members and made it into the DVDs the school sold. Another friend of mine sang Disney princess songs while wearing a Sonic hat and got second place. At least three girls gave him their number.
I watched a kid in his last year of high school start his presentation with, “I might mess up while presenting because I plagiarized the whole thing last night and barely practiced.” The professor didn’t hear what the student said, just acted like they did and gave a smile and thumbs up, signalling that the student could begin presenting. The whole class heard it, but everyone was just too shocked and curious to see if he would actually be able to pull it off. I’m pretty sure he did. Bold move, Jason. Bold move.
For my Spanish class in the ninth or tenth grade, we had to give presentations. I don’t remember what the topics were, but I do remember that this one kid named his presentation “Stupid Spanish Garbage” and got an earful from the teacher. He was the lovable class clown, so he just got off with just a warning.
I’m reminded of high school French in my sophomore year. One time, we had to do show and tell. One girl brought her ultrasound photos and told us all about her “bébé.” She wasn’t showing yet, so it was quite the surprise. Our adorably sheltered teacher was too shocked to figure out how to stop the presentation.
A speaker comes to talk to us before prom and it was very clear that it was an abstinence-only speaker. They talked about our "diamond zones" (the crotch area for men, the whole torso from the crotch to neck for women), and how we shouldn't let people touch us in our diamond zones. Apparently, that's where our secret treasure is.
We were in law and entrepreneurship class and had to make a presentation about a made-up company we would invent. The two class "clowns" made their presentation about a drink and their slogan was, "If she's inebriated, she can't say no." Neither of them wanted to read it, they just wanted to skip over it entirely.
However, the teacher made them read it and asked them to go back to their places. I had never seen someone so calm and angry at the same time. When the class started hesitatingly clapping, the professor said, "Stop, this isn't worth clapping for." The next week, the two of them went around all the classes to present a video about consent.
In grade 12 advanced placement English, we were assigned books then had to do a presentation on a topic related to it. The book I was assigned was The Stranger by Camus, so I presented on existentialism in literature. One girl was assigned Animal Farm . She started her presentation on kinds of tractors used in farming. She hadn’t read the book and assumed it was about actual animal husbandry. It was a very long presentation. The teacher had to actually hide her face.
A student gave a presentation on the need to strap laser beams to deer heads that trigger sonic waves so that the deer are detracted from crossing highways. I wasn’t the grading teacher, but I was asked to supervise the teacher. The theme was supposed to be on how to solve a problem youth is facing (for example, “How to be a “Solutionary”). The student was in tenth grade.
In my high school "current events" class, two freshman girls got a little lost in their research about ISIS. They somehow connected this terrorist group to the magic bullet theory used in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Me and the few other seniors were just holding back our laughter the entire presentation.
In fourth-year university, we had a year-long seminar course for 15 or so students. Our big end-of-year project was to give a three-hour lecture on one of the historical figures we’d studied. One guy got up there and was so nervous he blasted through his content in less than an hour, without hardly taking a breath. Nobody could understand him, the professor didn’t step in, and he was sweating so profusely his shirt was soaked through. I felt really bad for him, but oh God.
In high school, a student lost their life in a car accident where she was driving. There was no record that stated she was distracted by her phone or anything, but the school decided to have an assembly shortly after talking about distracted driving and using her as an example. They told the whole school she'd be alive if she was doing what she was supposed to.
I was doing work experience with a bunch of special needs kids at a school. We were watching a play that I don't remember the name of, which was about someone who was in a gang and got HIV. Instead of having any action or dialogue, the story was told through characters standing out front and telling the story to the audience. It was dull. The special needs kids were getting so restless, and I couldn't blame them because it was terrible.
In middle school there was a school-wide assembly telling kids not to use the bathroom anywhere other than a bathroom. Kids were going in hallways because the handbook "never said you had to use a bathroom." The school couldn't really do anything other than tell them to stop because, in fact, it wasn't in the handbook. Of course, you can't do it in front of an administrator or teacher, but nothing was stopping you.
This wickedly smart student in my physics class was giving a presentation on event horizons. It was actually really interesting and he definitely knew his stuff. Then, in the last third of the presentation, he started talking about how the time dilations around event horizons can actually explain why fossils are carbon-dated wrong and that it can help us prove that the dates in the Bible actually line up with science. It was actually somewhat entertaining to see just how quickly he went off the rails.
My junior year in French class. This one girl did not know French at all, despite taking the class for four years. She was pretty open about it too, laughing and saying how she didn’t need this class in the middle of the presentation! The teacher asked her to sit down. Prior to being called out, she was standing in front of her presentation, pointing at it and laughing. At one point, she was trying to say "Je suis heureuse" (I’m happy) but she couldn't think of it and finally just said, "Jay sweeze am happy, okay?"
I was in a Japanese film class for a credit I needed. The final project was some open-ended paper where you got to choose the topic. Our Japan-born teacher told us some story about a creepy neckbeard who did his final on Japanese adult material and how no one should do anything like that. On the day it was due, the creepiest neckbeard stereotype I’ve ever seen in my class, presented his long presentation on Japanese adult material in the class. No one wanted to hear it, already knowing the teacher had seen this before.
During my sophomore year of high school, we were tasked with bringing in an object from home and giving a presentation on how the object explains you as a person. This one kid brought in a knife, not a big one, but still. He actually gave a decent presentation but ended getting expelled because of it later that day.
When I was in school, we were asked to create a project that would help solve some issues in our environment. This one guy (who is probably one of the dumbest people I’ve ever met) suggested the idea of flying cars. His reasoning for why it would help the environment was because “then we wouldn’t use so much gas, just like airplanes!” I just sat there like what does he think airplanes run on? Pixie dust?
I was a teacher's aid at my son's school and I sat in on his class one day as a first-grader did show and tell. She held up a book and said, "This is my diarrhea!" Half the class looked confused, the rest looked intrigued. She continued to mix up "diary" with "diarrhea" for several more sentences as the teacher and I were silently crying with hysteria. If just one kid had laughed, we would have jumped in, but everyone listened with respect and applauded at the end, so we moved on.
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