Writing from the Classroom: Jessica del Castillo and the Fascistic Principal

This is an essay by Jessica del Castillo, a student at Mount St. Mary’s University. I remember doing this “knock-out” trick when I was in school…surprised no one got killed doing it. Ms. del Castillo brings the anguish home, of having to deal with a fascistic principal. 


jessica del castillo
Jessica del Castillo

When I was younger, I was easily impressionable, as most kids are. I was peer-pressured into doing a lot of things I would not have done otherwise. When I was in sixth grade this new girl, Tiffany, transferred to my school. She quickly was taken in by the other girls I used to hang out with. Tiffany was not the best kid to have around. We did a lot of things with her that would get us into trouble, and for some reason, we continued to hang out with her. When I think back to her now I associate my “friendship” with her as the rational part of my brain still developing. However, I think it’s more stupidity than anything else.

Tiffany came to school one day and told us she had learned to do something that was really cool. She said if we did it, it would give us “a sort of high,” as she put it. She took all of us to the bathroom and told us to lean up against the wall and to hold our breath. My friend, Hannah, was closest to Tiffany so she went first. Hannah held her breath and I watched as Tiffany began pressing really hard on Hannah’s chest. Hannah freaked out and pushed Tiffany off.

“Relax, it’s perfectly safe. I’m just going to push on your chest and you’ll pass out for a bit and then wake up,” said Tiffany.

We all watched as Hannah again held her breath and Tiffany pressed hard against her chest. Five seconds later Hannah slid to the floor, unconscious. Alarm bells immediately went off in my head. At that moment, I heard my mom’s voice. She, being a nurse for twenty eight years, always told me, “deprive the brain of oxygen and nothing good will come from that.”

I turned to them and I said, “guys, I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“No, it’s fine! Look, Hannah’s waking up and she’s fine,” said Tiffany.

Hannah woke up and had a big grin on her face. “Wow, that was cool!” she said.

The other girls then wanted to try. At that moment, a girl from our class walked in and needed to use the bathroom. She saw what we were doing, but she didn’t say anything to us. Tiffany told me it was my turn and I told her no, thank you. She shrugged her shoulders and continued doing it to the other girls until they were tired and didn’t want to partake anymore. We all went back to class. Twenty minutes later the principal showed up to our classroom and asked to speak with me.

Principal Trunchbull was a mean lady. Nobody liked her. Whenever she would come around people avoided eye contact with her and the little kids ran away. She called me out of class and asked to speak to me. Oh no, what did I do? She took me to her office, which was as plain as could be, and sat me down in her hard, stiff chairs.

“So, I’ve been informed that you and a couple of your friends have been doing things in the bathroom,” she said. “Do you want to tell me what you were doing?”

I was easily impressionable as a kid, but I was not a snitch. I looked at her and did not say a thing.

“So, you want to do it the hard way then? You’ll sit in here until you tell me,” she said as she was leaving the room.

I wanted to cry. I looked around the room and thought, where are the other girls? Why is it just me? Now that I look back on it, that evil lady knew I was the only one who didn’t participate in what my friends were doing. She wanted me to snitch on them and was keeping me in her room so that I could break and confess. I have no idea how she got her job and why anyone thought it would be a great idea to put her around younger kids. She was a principal who didn’t have any kids of her own and didn’t have a caring bone in her body. She was torturing me by leaving me alone in her room; not even my parents punished me like that. In that moment, I had never wanted to go back to class so badly in my life.

She would periodically come back to the room to see if I was ready to confess and when I didn’t say anything she would leave again. This was unfair, I thought. I’m the only one who didn’t do what my friends were doing and yet I’m the only one being punished? Principal Trunchbull clearly hated her job and wanted to take it out on me. She knew I couldn’t do anything besides sit there and wait to be dismissed. I remember one of the office aides passing by several times. Each time she passed, she would give me a look saying, “I’m so sorry for what’s happening to you.” She offered me water several times, but I said I wasn’t thirsty. I don’t know how long I was in that office for, but it was definitely hours. By the time I was released the school day was almost over. I had missed almost all my classes. Principal Trunchbull finally figured that I was not going to say anything so she let me go, but not before calling my mom and letting her know what I had done. The girls asked me what had happened and why I was gone for so long, but I was too traumatized to speak. I just wanted to go home. However, Principal Trunchbull had ruined that for me also by calling my mom. When I got home my mother was furious that I could ever do something like that.

“You know, if you deprive your brain of oxygen for too long there could be permanent brain damage. If any of you had hit your head when you fell, it would have been over,” she said.

She went on and on about how dangerous it was but all I could remember was Principal Trunchbull. She had scarred me, which I think, was her intention. I was only eleven years old and she tried to bully me into telling her what happened. She ended up quitting three years later. Probably because she had scarred me to the point that I am still talking about it today. She was satisfied with what she accomplished back in those days. I am not proud of what happened. I allowed danger to come near my friends and didn’t do anything about it. My parents were extremely unhappy with me also. I was scared that I was going to get in big trouble, however, nothing scared me more than Principal Trunchbull, and since then, nothing has scared me more than that woman.


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