So, I was about to write up a rundown of this year’s best and lamest April Fool’s Day pranks, when I discovered that Wikipedia (of course) has already done it. So rather than re-invent the proverbial wheel, I here present you with their much more comprehensive list. Keep checking, as the list is still being edited as I write this.

But I didn’t want to leave you completely prankless, so I decided it was time to write about the best April Fool’s Day I ever had.

Those of you who know me know that I was a substitute teacher for several years after college. I loved being a daily sub. No take home work, no planning, and I got to hang out with kids all day. Who could ask for anything more? Of course, there was no benefits package, and the pay sucked. And there was never any guarantee of work.

That last point seldom proved to be problematic for me. I established myself as a reliable sub for a couple of schools and wound up with lots of repeat business. In fact, I often had to turn down work. Being a regular at a handful of schools was great, because I got to know the faculty and the students pretty well over time.

But on April 1, 1997, I found myself at a school where I’d never taught before. I was teaching 8th grade English at Landisville Middle School. I couldn’t have asked for a better setup. See, the kids at my regular schools knew me, and they knew I could never resist a cheap joke, so April Fool’s Day wouldn’t have been as much as fun with them; they would have been expecting it from me. But at a new school, the possibilities were endless.

For my first period class, I went with the standard fake pop quiz. I even found some ScanTron forms and passed them out before I let the kids off the hook. They weren’t terribly pleased with me, but I thought it was pretty funny.

I soon enlisted their help. During first period, I got out my seating chart for second period, and I asked the kids who could take a joke. They discussed the matter and gave me a name. Then I gathered from them all of the information they could muster, from easily known and obvious things to ridiculous details that I could never possibly know. I swore them to secrecy, and they agreed (and as it turned out, they all kept the secret).

When second period started, I took roll orally. This was pretty much standard operating procedure for a sub, so it aroused no suspicion. But when I came to the victim’s name on my seating chart, I paused. “Hey!” I said. “I know you!”

The victim was confused. She had no idea who I was.

“Don’t you remember me?” I asked. By now, the other kids in the class were staring and wondering how I knew her. I started with the easy stuff. “Oh, come on! Your mom’s name is Sally and your dad’s name is Mark.” More confusion. That’s when I poured it on. “You spent July at the lake, right? And you were upset because you had to share a room with your cousin, remember?”

At this point, the victim was in shock. She could not remember me to save her life, and with good reason. So I finally dropped the bomb: “April Fool’s!”

The class erupted into hysterical laughter, and victim heaved a sigh of relief before laughing herself.

When the laughter died down, I produced my third period seating chart and asked the second period kids who could take a joke. Then I swore them to secrecy.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Amazingly, the 8th graders kept their secret all day long. In every period, I was able to take someone completely by surprise.

Ah, it was a great day. One of my best. Lots of good fun, and no one got hurt. And we even got our classwork done.

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