You are here:  Home  > 
Warning: Use of undefined constant single - assumed 'single' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/thevistapress.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/dailypress/include/breadcrumbs.php on line 38

Warning: Use of undefined constant ai1ec_event - assumed 'ai1ec_event' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/thevistapress.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/dailypress/include/breadcrumbs.php on line 38

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/customer/www/thevistapress.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/dailypress/include/breadcrumbs.php on line 38

Warning: Use of undefined constant single - assumed 'single' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/thevistapress.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/dailypress/include/breadcrumbs.php on line 54

Warning: Use of undefined constant ai1ec_event - assumed 'ai1ec_event' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/thevistapress.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/dailypress/include/breadcrumbs.php on line 54

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/customer/www/thevistapress.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/dailypress/include/breadcrumbs.php on line 54
Calendar >  Another Stone in the Wall -Thomas Calabrese

Another Stone in the Wall -Thomas Calabrese

By   /  March 5, 2023  /  10 Comments


School of Hard Knocks

Thomas Calabrese -Trish Grant was offered the position of Vice Principal at Zachary Olson High School in Anaheim, California by her close friend, Bruce Hudkins. They had taught together at El Camino High School in Oceanside before he accepted the Principal’s job at this new school.  Soon afterward, Trish retired after a distinguished career of 24 years in the teaching profession.

The current Vice Principal of Zachary Olson High School was seriously injured in a car accident while driving to Mammoth Mountain for a weekend of skiing after a large storm pummeled the area with three feet of snow. He was expected to make a full recovery, but it would be a while before he could return to work.

Bruce explained the predicament to his friend, “I know what you’re capable of so I recommended you to the school district. They reviewed your record and wholeheartedly accepted my endorsement. The job is yours if you want it.”

            “I appreciate your confidence in me,” Trish said, “but I’m just getting acclimated to retired life and have no desire to return to the educational profession.”

Bruce continued, undeterred by the denial, “The average salary for a high school vice principal in California is $141,820 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $124,474 and $158,033. Since you don’t need benefits, the district is willing to pay you $750.00 per day. It’s a six-month contract and hopefully by the end of that time, the current vice principal will be sufficiently healed to be able to return to work. For some reason that he can’t, the district will hire someone full-time.”

            “It’s a tempting offer, my husband is on a nine month deployment with his Marine squadron and both my daughters are away in college so it’s not like I have to be home except to take care of my two dogs. On the downside, it is 60 miles from Oceanside to Anaheim, one hundred twenty miles roundtrip and most of it would be in traffic. I don’t want to start commuting three or four hours a day at this point in my life and if I decided to move to Anaheim then I would have to get an apartment and furnish it or stay in a motel. That’s too much trouble so I reiterate with denial with additional emphasis and I politely decline your generous effort.”

            “Wait a minute, I’m not done yet with my sales pitch. My wife and I bought a house in a nice area that has a big guest room with a private bathroom and its own entrance. I’ve already discussed it with Kristal and its fine with her. We even got a yard for your dogs and you can go home on weekends. Free rent and utilities would be part of the offer.”

            “Why is it so important for you to have me take this job?” Trish asked, “There has to be somebody on the current facility that you could get.”

Bruce explained, “You know that I’m not the easiest person to like. It was months before we even called each other by our first names. I have a tendency to be abrupt at times and have been accused of being coldhearted at others. I’m new to being a principal, but I am also ambitious and someday I want to be a school superintendent. Being a principal is ‘another stone in the wall’ for my portfolio. Now if you were there, the transition would not be quite as difficult and I could run my ideas and policies by you for your opinion first before implementing them.

            “And being a woman, the policies won’t seem sexist or insensitive if I’m part of the process, Trish deducted.

            “That’s part of it and unfortunately we live in a politically correct world and perception often takes precedence over reality,” Bruce sighed, “All my cards are on the table so what is your answer?”

            “If it was anybody but you asking me to do this I’d say no, but when I had some difficulties early my career, you helped me, so it’s payback time” Trish added, “Six months…that is all I’ll commit to…I want to make that point emphatically clear.”

I understand completely …thank you very much,” Bruce sighed in relief.

Zachary Olson High School had more than its share of disciplinary problems and Bruce Hudkins was doing his best to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the students who wanted to learn, but he wasn’t making much progress. Lawsuits from parents and radical organizations intimidated the school board into rescinding several common sense mandates that Principal Hudkins put in place. The situation eventually took its toll on Bruce and he had a suffered a mild heart attack. His cardiologist warned him, “You need to take it easy for a while and when you do go back to work, you need to delegate more. It is not a joke or a catchphrase when they say ‘stress is a killer’.”  

Trish had no other choice, but to assume the additional duties of principal. When she suspended a group of gang members for dealing drugs on campus, she was ambushed in the parking lot and badly injured. She would have been killed if it hadn’t been for the intervention of a school security guard.  Rick Halpin took the brunt of the attack and died from a fractured skull.

Trish’s younger brother, John Colton, a former highly decorated Navy Seal and his wife, Ava a foreign intelligence analyst met while both were serving in Middle East. They married two years later and left the military to start their own security consultant company. They had two children, a boy Michael and a girl, Nicole. Both were home schooled in a variety of subjects and spoke several languages. They were trained to be proficient in weapons and hand to hand to hand combat. They also possessed strong core values of God, family and country.

When told of his sister’s attack, John and his family rushed from their home in Bonsall to the Anaheim Regional Medical Center.  Bruce Hudkins was nervously pacing back and forth in the waiting room when they were arrived. He sincerely apologized, “Trish would not be in this position if it wasn’t for me. I talked her into taking the job.”

John consoled him, “I know my sister and nobody convinces her to do anything that she doesn’t want to do. The people who did this to her are at fault.”

            “What does the doctor say?” Ava asked.

            “She’s in serious, but stable condition. The security guard wasn’t so fortunate, he died on the way to the hospital.” Bruce was choked up with emotion, “He left behind a wife and a young child.”

            “I’m going to visit with my sister,” John said.

Fifteen minutes later, John returned and gave his family an update, “They’ve got her on pain medication and she is kind of groggy. She fell asleep while we were talking.”

            “That’s a good thing…right?” Michael surmised.

            “Yeah, her body needs the rest,” John said.

            “I wish I could do more,” Bruce said, “Should we notify the Marines so they can contact Steve?”

            “Let’s hold up on that. It’s Trish’s decision if and when she decides to contact her husband. She may not want to worry him since there is nothing he can do,” John said, “Go home and get some rest. I’ll call you in the morning, leave me the best phone number to reach you.”

After Bruce left, John turned to his wife, “We need find a good motel, I’m going to stay with Trish. We’ll meet back here at 0900 tomorrow morning to discuss our plans.”

            “I’m working on it as we speak,” Nicole said as she accessed the internet on her phone.

When morning came, John met with his family in the waiting room and informed them, “I had a chance to talk with Trish about what happened.” He called Bruce on his cellphone, “We’re at the hospital…we need to talk.”

 When Bruce arrived, John informed him, “We’re coming to your school.”

Bruce was confused, “Huh?”

            “I’m the new janitor, Ava will be a substitute teacher and Mike and Nicole are transfer students. We need to hold some people accountable and when that’s done, then we’ll be gone.”

            “I will need some authorization for that,” Bruce said.

            “Only if we were getting paid or need grades, which we don’t” Ava explained, “This is strictly off the books besides you’ll need plausible deniability if this goes south. Leave it to us, we’re very good at infiltrating organizations and your school shouldn’t be a problem.”

            “Why are you doing this?” Bruce asked, “The obvious answer is Trish, but it’s more than that?”

            “Because that is what my family does, we identify problems and correct them…at least we try to,” Mike said, “If these people can assault my aunt and kill a security guard then nobody is safe at your school. No offense, Mister Hudkins, but you have two choices, remain part of the problem or help us with the solution.”

Bruce was impressed by the boy’s candor who spoke like someone much older than his 16 years, “When you put it that way…count me in.”

            “Give us a few days to put things together,” John said, “We intend to hit the ground running.”

After returning to Bonsall, Ava Colton used her extensive covert intelligence skills to create false identities for her husband, children and herself.  When Trish was released from the hospital, the Colton family leased a short term rental home in Anaheim, not far from Zachary Olson High School.  They turned one of the downstairs bedrooms into their command center.

Trish took on the duty of monitoring the school surveillance cameras that Ava hacked into and kept in touch with her brother and his family by coded message when they were on school grounds. For the first month, the Coltons kept a low profile and spent their time identifying the troublemakers and drug dealers. When school hours was over, the family would return to their rental and discuss what they had observed and worked on their strategy.  Trish and Ava combined to create profiles of the most dangerous gang members then listed them in order of their negative impact on the school and the threat they posed.  John focused his attention searching for the gang that was supplying the dangerous drugs to the student dealers and didn’t want to make a move until he found their hideout. While working as a custodian he kept his eyes and ears open and his head on a swivel and eventually determined which students were working with the gang. He accessed their school lockers and placed tiny high tech tracking devices on their jackets and clothes.

The family was getting impatient to make their move and John endeavored to keep them focused on the big picture, “We’re almost there…be patient.”

While working as a substitute teacher, Ava was sometimes threatened and insulted while in the classroom, especially if she disciplined an unruly or angry student. Even though she was extremely qualified to inflict serious physical punishment if she chose to, she maintained her self-control and composure and did not resort to violence. Instead she took the insults and pretended to be frail, fearful and intimidated. She made a list of the troublesome students and filed away the information for further reference. Mona Martinez was a Spanish teacher and she had just returned from major back surgery and was on heavy pain medication. She was in no condition to maintain order in her classroom and Ava often relieved her so she could rest in the teachers’ lounge.

The time of reckoning arrived when John found out where the gang hideout was located, He told his family, “We’re ready to go.”

            “That’s good to hear?” Nicole smiled in gleeful anticipation.

            “Remember the mission in Prague with Tanya, the treasure hunter who was searching for Nazi gold? We should be able to implement some of those same tactics in this mission,” John said.

Trish interjected, “I wasn’t around for that, but I’m ready to do whatever needs to be done.”

Mike said, “I just want to make sure that I understand the rules of engagements correctly.”

            “We’ve already identified our targets,” Ava told her children, “Once your dad gives the word, we go get them. It’s that simple.”

John was heavily armed when he arrived down the street from the gang hideout of the East Side Barrio Boys. He was in the driver’s seat of a black service van with his sister Trish sat in the passenger seat with a laptop. She warned her younger brother, “You need to be careful, I don’t want to explain to Mom that you got hurt while we were together.”

            “She still blames you when I fell out of the tree in the backyard when we were kids,” John reminisced, “One Navy Seal…one gang…sounds like good odds to me.”

            “Launching the drone,” Trish sent the surveillance drone into the skies and watched the video footage of the area on the screen of her laptop.  John exited the vehicle and waited for Trish to give him the go ahead, “You’re clear.”

 John moved toward the building and communicated with his family back at Zachary Olson High School “I’m commencing attack!”

They heard him through their earpieces and one by one, they acknowledged receipt of the transmission and prepared to make their move. Ava, Mike and Nicole were already wearing steel toed boots. They reached into their packs and put on tactical gloves with metal knuckle inserts. Mike was the first to engage two bullies outside a building, “Hey tough guys, let’s see what you have.”

The two boys who had been abusing and terrorizing their fellow students since the beginning of the school year approached. “You talking to us?” one of them asked.

            “You’re the only idiots I see standing in front of me,” Mike asked, “Are you waiting for me to slap the stupid off your faces or are you planning on doing something?”

One of the bullies made a move and Mike knocked him to the floor with a single punch then did the same to other. Both boys were moaning in pain as Mike walked off. While he was doing this, Nicole and Ava also engaged their targets.

While this was happening, John was planting demolition charges around the building. He detonated the charges and the drug dealers came rushing out. One by one, John shot them down then returned to van and told his sister, “Let’s go to the school.” By the time they arrived at least two dozen troublesome students were being treated for a variety of injuries that included broken jaws and busted legs.

John called to his family, “Let’s go!”

Everyone got in and they disappeared.

Police detectives interviewed the students about the attacks, but nobody knew where their assailants went. Trish decided waited until her husband returned from deployment and she completely recovered before she told to him about being injured. Things were very peaceful at Zachary Olson High School for the next year and Bruce got his promotion to superintendent.

While having dinner at their North County home, Nicole asked. “I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if I went to public school instead of being home schooled.”

            “I can always falsify scholastic records if you want to try,” Ava offered.

            “I’m not that curious,” Nicole smiled.

 Once again, the Colton family rose to the occasion and John emphasized, “I’m proud of you, one more mission successfully completed.”

Mike added, “It’s no big deal, sir…it’s just another stone in the road on the journey that we call life.”

Nicole turned to her mother and added, “Like you say, in the school of hard knocks, it’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up and knock the other guy down that counts, ”  then affectionately hugged her parents and gave a high five to her brother.

The End.


Do you want more news like this? We're supported by our subscribers and readers!

About the author



  1. wolf says:

    Good one. Very similar to the movie The Substitute.
    Also Brings back some memories.

    In 1967 I was Marine Reservist and Attending College pursuing a degree in Physical Education. My last Semester I had to go into a High school and Student teach.

    My teacher knew I was a Marine. and was sending be to a school that was known for.
    disciplinary problems.

    I was assigned to a PE teacher and was told to work up a lesson plan to teach a class. I wrestled in High School and got the OK to teach wrestling. During the class there was a student sitting in the middle of the mat who was not in my class. I asked him to leave the area. He stood up and said who was I to tell what to do. I asked him again and got the same response.

    This time I did a. double leg take down to the mat. put his face to the mat with a single arm and whispered in his ear leave the gym or i will break your Fu Arm. He got up and left.

    Short time later the Dean and punk came to the class. Dean said that the student claimed I threatened. him. I told dean I was concerned for his safety and was escorting out the gym. Turned my back to the dean and went back to teaching my class. He left with the student without a word.

    I lost track of how many double legs take downs I did.

    Got an A for my student teaching.

    No way would I get away with that today. Sued, fired or shot in class.

  2. Clyde says:

    We didn’t have these kind of troubles when I was in high school, but I like the idea of going after drug dealers and troublemakers in high school now.

  3. Skip says:

    I recall a time when an Oceanside High School attempted to confront me as I was substitute teaching for the biology teacher. As the class was settling into their seats, and the “substitute” remarks were being mumbled by the class, he stormed toward the front of the class, toward me. As he came within seven meters, I raised my hand and said, “STOP”. He did. I then said ” between the two of us, I am only sure that one of us has killed anybody. Before you take another step, I suggest you think about that and get back to your seat: Thankfully, he did just that and the rest of the period went well.

  4. Robert says:

    I story. The good guys won again.

  5. Tiger says:

    Love it!

  6. Garry says:

    VWG SDcounty
    To: calabr5@aol.com
    Sent: Sun, Mar 5, 2023 1:17 pm

    Another excellent tale etched in the wall.


  7. Bart says:

    I have family in education that may enjoy your fictional story and wish it were true!

  8. Tom says:

    As a former HS teacher, I can appreciate this scenario, although I never had to deal with these types of punks in DoD Overseas Schools. Teachers need to wear Kevlar in the classroom these days! I am most perplexed at the salary you mention for principals: “The average salary for a high school vice principal in California is $141,820 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $124,474 and $158,033. That is an obscene amount to pay for what I consider to be a non-academic babysitter. But that’s another story! A great familial touch as the Coltons come together to protect and support their sister. Unfortunately this is not possible in the real world but I love it in the world of fiction! Bravo Zulu

  9. Steve says:

    A very interesting story…timely, that’s for sure.

  10. Tony says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story in the Sunday Vista Press by Mr. Thomas Calabrese. We know these tactics are not permitted in schools but parents should consider supporting teacher’s and the curriculum that is being taught in schools today. We need to allow teacher to teach and parents need to take responsibility for there children. Parents need to be mindful of what is being taught and if it is not in keeping with what should be instructed they need to address the school board and those things to the Federal Government who mandates the some of the things that should be taught at home by their parents. The Colton/Grant family coming together may be a little far fetched but Mr. Calabrese has a unique way of making a point and resolving issues that are entertaining.
    The issues can be resolve by the community, citizens that band together like the Coltons/Grant family and take proper and legal actions and correct the inappropriate by making it appropriate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like...

Ask The Pro

Read More →