Miss Marjorie Gilliland
and Biology Class

Story By Brian V. Brunner('64)

"Good Luck to a very good student.

"This above all; to thine ownself be true,
And as sure as the night follows the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."

William Shakespeare

Marjorie Gilliland"

That was how my Biology teacher signed my annual in May of 1962, near the end of my sophomore year.

Paul Strobel('43) said this as an introduction to his story about his former SII teacher -

Miss Seraph Blaisdell:

"Think back. Did you ever have a teacher when you were going to school - elementary, high, or college - whom you respected and looked upon as a fountain of wisdom and as a friend? A teacher who never escaped your memory? One that, even today, you feel occasionally is looking over your shoulder?"

Well, I have to admit that I never felt that Miss Gilliland was ever looking over my shoulder, but she has never escaped my memory. There are so many things I wish I could remember. It is too bad that I do not have a picture of her, then I could remember better what she looked like. I "think" she came to LWMA in the second semester of the 1961-62 school year. That is why I believe her picture was not in the annual she signed for me that day. Of course my memory may be faulty on that point, but I know her picture never made it into that annual, whatever the reason. She is listed in the spring - 1962 "List of Cadets" under "Staff" as "Miss Marjorie Gilliland - Science".

I'm not sure what other "Science" besides Biology she taught, but she had her hands full with that one. The tenth grade was huge! Miss Gilliland had to teach two ninety-minute classes of that one subject alone. I don't know the exact number of her Biology students, but there are thirty-five sophomores pictured in the 1962 yearbook. The whole Cadet Corps in 1961-62 was only about one hundred and twenty five in number. Anyway all thirty plus students could not all be seated in the Science classroom / lab area in the basement of Tallapoosa Hall. That was the reason for the double Biology sessions.

These are some things I do remember.. She had served her country in the Marine Corps! I remember her saying she did some of her time aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Boxer. For this and many other reasons she won my respect. Oh, she never wore a uniform at LWMA. None of the female teachers ever did. That's still the standard dress code for the faculty at the school, men in uniform, women in civilian dress (until 1999). Although Miss Gilliland would not have looked out of place in a uniform but I think she was glad to be a "civilian".

She had her own grading system. Each question on a test was worth so many points regardless of the percentage value and she always had an extra point question at end of each test. She could tell you after each test how many points you had and how many it took to have an A, B, C, etc. This system worked well for me! I did not always get all the answers correct, but I always seemed to know the extra point questions. We also had a lab dissection-drawing book that was graded by points that were added to the student's total. I was able to keep my average up to an A+ all semester with the extra point questions and extra work for points. I remember we also got points for killing bugs in a jar down by Lake Mary.

Miss Gilliland really enjoyed teaching us about animals and it took us a long time to get through the first half of the Biology book. By the time we got to the back half of the book about plants the semester had only about three weeks left before final exams! Things happened fast then. First, I got an ear infection in both ears from swimming in our unfiltered spring-fed outdoor swimming pool. I was in so much pain that I could hardly think, much less study. Then Miss Gilliland gave us our last test on plants. I wrote her a note on the bottom of test telling her I was sorry for doing so poorly on the test, but I had been unable to study because of the ear infection.

I just knew I had flunked that test and really messed up my average. The next Monday when I went back to Biology class, I got a big surprise after Miss Gilliland passed out the graded tests. I made an F on the test, just as I expected, but at the bottom she had written a note to me! It said in effect, "Sorry, you have not been feeling well. By the way, you have enough extra points that you still have an A+ average and you are exempt from taking the final exam."

Now you know about the only course I ever aced and the very nice lady, and friend who taught it.

It was too bad she was at LWMA only that one year. One of the reasons, I think, she did not return to LWMA is another good story...

I believe this is the correct quote:

"This above all; to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man."

William Shakespeare,
- Lord Polonius -
- Hamlet - Act I, Scene III -

My quote at the beginning of this story is just as it is written in my 1962 yearbook.

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