In a Class By Herself
by James L. Choron
School 86 is one of the oldest public schools in Russia a part of Lenin's original Five Year Plan to modernize Russia in the aftermath of the four years of Revolution, Counter-Revolution and Civil War. It stands on a hill overlooking the conjuncture of the Kazanka and the great Volga River in the city of Kazan the Capital of the Autonomous Republic of Tataristan. Before Lenin, there were no public schools in Russia; all schools were private, and, very expensive. Aside from free education for the masses, Lenin introduced yet another innovation, all schools founded after the Revolution of 1917 were co-educational. Both boys and girls were now allowed, encouraged, in fact to get an education.
Nadia Kozlova is literally in a class by herself. Undoubtedly, she is the brightest student ever to attend School 86. A senior, in her eleventh year of public school, her overall grade point average is 4.995 one of the highest in all of Russia. In her entire scholastic career, Nadia Kozlova has never missed a single day of classes. Not one. She could easily claim the gold medal for first place in academics. Every teacher that has ever seen her work would recommend her, and literally dozens of teachers have seen it. There's just one problem.
No one at School 86 has ever seen Nadia. Each day, her work is turned in. Each day, it is in the same neat, precise longhand that is one of the trademarks of this intelligent girl No one knows quite how it is turned. No one seems to see her, or anyone else place the old-fashioned brown manila folder on the teacher's desk. In fact, no one, in living memory, has ever seen Nadia. That's the problem… Nadia Kozlova is a ghost.
In 1926, just less than four years after School 86 opened it's doors, it closed them again, quite suddenly, at least it would have closed them if there had been any doors left to close. Early one morning in late February, an explosion ripped throught he building. Coal dust, in the bunker, underneath the school, filled only to half capscity, ignited, most likely from a spark given off by the nearby furnace, and the resulting blast demolished the entire building At exactly 7:43 am., according to the wall clock that was later found in the charred rubble, School 86 ceased to exist. Only a large, black, smoking crater remained.
The school day in Russia does not begin until 9:00am. Fortunately, there were few people in the building at the time of the explosion The School's Director, three teachers, the Librarian, the janitor, and Nadia Kozlova and all of them disappeared without a trace. Nadia, who was at that time in her final year of school, and vying for the gold medal for excellence, had come to school early that day, to do a little extra work in the library. She wanted desperately to go on to University, and for a girl from a poor family, the stipend that went along with the gold medal was the only way in which that would be possible. Even though all education was (and still is) free, as long as the student could pass the examinations, her room and board represented a fantastic sum for her family. Nadia had a dream Nadia's dream cost her her life.
Ever since that time, every graduating class at School '86 has had an extra unofficial student Nadia Kozlova. No one has ever seen her. No photograph of her exists, only her name on a tiny brass plate affixed to the front hallway of school. Yet, she is there. She has, still, never missed a day. There is a small wooden cabinet in the Office of the Director. That cabinet contains seventy-seven years worth of Nadia's competed work, written in ink pen… not ballpoint… and bound in quaint, old-fashioned, string-bond "manila" jackets…the kind that have not been manufactured in over half a century. It is there for all to see, and every single piece is almost letter perfect. You see, Nadia's amazing GPA doesn't simply span four years. It spans over three-quarters of a century.
James Choron is a featured contributor to this WorldOfTheStrange website.
Contributions include: !Is Ufology Dead?, King Bird Fifty, The Tunguska Incident - An Overview, School Days, In a Class By Herself, Dawn at the Alamo, Three Times A Hero, Lady With the Lamp, The Little Girl in the Garden
Website: http://wintersteel.homestead.com/home.html (dead link)
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