My Gradebook is The Terminator and I’m Sarah Connor

By Walter S. Coppage



A few years ago our district was given a new gradebook that promised to enhance our teaching and make grading easier.  It had the ability to make seating charts and had all the bells and whistles that people who buy gradebooks loved.  God bless them for they know not what they do.  Skynet was supposed to solve all our problems too.  For the last few years I’ve been fighting a battle against the machines. I have been fighting a battle against my gradebook.

“It doesn’t feel remorse or fear and will not stop until you are dead.” (That’s being a little dramatic but you know what I mean.)

First off, the gradebook robs time.  After 15 minutes it automatically logs out causing me to have to take time away from class to login yet again.  I can’t take on a rowdy class and keep the gradebook online.  While I handle the rowdy class, the gradebook escapes and logs out.

I’ll Be Back

The gradebook is the Terminator because its mission is to change the past to affect the future.  When I’m putting in grades, if it logs out on its own, all the grades I just put in are lost.  This leaves me to be on guard and continuously hit the save button which takes another 30 seconds for me to go back into the assignment I was just scoring.  Sometimes the gradebook will lose grades for no reason whatsoever leaving parents emailing and kids griping about missing grades.

“Come with me if you want to live.”-Kyle Reese

Five Star Folder

A relic of an earlier age, a Five Star folder, my Kyle Reese, has been my protector for all these years against the Terminator.  Each class will get a Five Star folder where I keep all their work.  This way when the Terminator strikes and wreaks havoc on my grades, I have the papers and grades being protected by the Five Star folder.

For years, I taught Speech aka Communication Applications aka Professional Communications which was a semester class.  Their speech grades, tests and daily work all resided in the Five Star folder. By the end of the semester, most of the Five Star folders were at capacity but I made due.

Last year I started teaching English 3 and Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) could not keep up. English 3 was locked and loaded with vocab tests, essays, interactive reader assignments and a million other papers.The past was fighting alongside the future against me.

A more organized teacher than myself might say, “Why are you keeping all those papers? You’re hoarding classwork.”

If I give students back a lot of papers, they end up in the trash or on my floor for me to pick up. Then when the Terminator strikes and I have no idea what 150 kids made on each assignment, that’s on me.  Parents will not blame their child and tell them to redo the assignment.  It’s not on the kid for not being able to keep track of it. It’s on me for not keeping track of it, all because The Terminator lurks.

“What about giving the students their own folder and having them keep stuff for a portfolio grade?”

I tried that a few years ago and even with a test grade at stake, they didn’t keep up with their papers and handouts.  The Terminator would probably erase all the portfolio grades anyway.

I will be teaching three classes of English 3 this year and I don’t know what to do. Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) can’t do it anymore. I’m on my own in this fight. What do I use? I saw one teacher using hanging folders in her class.  I could file their papers in an already packed file cabinet.

How do I win the war against the machines? How do I defeat The Terminator?


“Independence Day: Resurgence”Could Unleash Destruction of Our Movie Theater

“Independence Day: Resurgence”Could Unleash Destruction of Our Movie Theater

By Walter S.Coppage




I saw “The Neon Demon” today at Cinemark and was the only one in the theater on its last day. It’s not a comic book movie. It’s not a romantic comedy. It’s not animated. It’s an independent film directed by a guy who says, “I don’t make films. I make experiences.” That’s the kinda movie it is. While I watched it, I wished I could create something as original and visually arresting as “The Neon Demon.” It’s not a horror movie but that doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying. The music. The colors. The intensity. It’s not the kind of movie you get the most out of at home with your phone and life at your disposal. This is the kind of movie you see in the theater so you are paying attention and getting the whole……experience. (I’m sorry this blog is getting pretentious. I have a point.)


I had been trying to see this movie for a week and life at 35 gets in the way. Appointments and plans kept me from getting there but I made sure to make it today because it’s gone tomorrow. Like many independent films, its time will be short lived in Wichita Falls all the while “The Jungle Book” has been here since April. Studio films always overstay their welcome but something happened this summer.


Wichita Falls has had at least two movie theaters for 35 years and most of that time it’s been two theaters bidding on which theater gets the movie. Something changed. I heard 20th Century Fox is just putting screens out everywhere no longer taking part in the bidding process. Someone else told me studios are out to put their movie everywhere. That’s just business. Well it is never how business had been done here.


I was in England and Spain for two weeks and when I got home I checked Fandango and “X-Men: Apocalypse” was at both theaters. That couldn’t be right but it was only the beginning.


With both theaters, we have 24 screens. 8-10 screens are being used for movies that are at both theaters. “Free State of Jones”, “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “Now You See Me 2” are at all locations and it’s not like these movies have been doing “Star Wars” or “Avengers” type business. Side note: “X-Men: Apocalypse” is only at one theater now.


This might seem like good business but it’s not for Carmike Theaters in the mall. In the late 90s, the newly renovated theater was coveted by everyone. You wanted every good movie to go there. Ever since the amazing stadium seating cathedral of Cinemark Theaters opened in 2005, people want every movie to go there. Ever since it opened, everyone hates on the mall theater.


“That mall theater, I’d rather drive to Dallas then see a movie there.”


“That mall theater, they have a sign that says I can’t have my gun so I’m boycotting.”


“That mall theater, I saw rats there one time.”


I’ve never seen any rats there and I’ve seen a thousand movies there. Is it in need of a good cleaning? Yes. Does it need new equipment and seating? Yes. Should they be cheaper tickets? Absolutely. I still go there. I still want them to stay open.


“They should just tear it down and build a new theater.”


There was even a Facebook survey about building a new theater. (Not exactly Nate Silver is it?) Everyone voted for a new theater. Here’s the thing. Theaters aren’t cheap and if you want a new one, it wouldn’t be able to be on the same property. It’s a huge operation. Plus it’s not a bond election. A corporation has to come in and make that happen.


If both theaters are showing the same movie, Cinemark is going to get people every time. This puts Carmike in the crosshairs of closing. Why on earth do we need four screens of “Independence Day: Resurgence”? Ground control to Major Tom, Will Smith isn’t even in it. You’re banking four screens on Jeff Goldblum.  Roland Emmerich has destroyed The White House, New York City and 2012 and Carmike Theaters might be next.


Whenever people ranted and raved, I came to Carmike’s defense. For the average moviegoer, it doesn’t matter. “Star Wars” will still come here. “The Avengers” will still come here. But for people like me and my wife, we need two theaters. We need them because we read and listen to the Filmcast with David Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Jeff Cannata. We know about hits at Sundance and Cannes. We pay attention to the Golden Globes because it puts stuff on our radar outside of the blockbuster zone.  We’re able to get movies that aren’t going to make a lot of money here but that doesn’t meant they’re not great movies. If we lose this crappy mall theater and become a one theater town, we lose the power to have more movies come to our town. When we pack four theaters with “Independence Day: Resurgence” we lose something riveting like “The Neon Demon.”