Raymond, Are You Out There?

Rachel Marsh
3 min readSep 29, 2021

In fifth grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Dunham. She was a vivacious middle-aged divorcée who dyed her hair blonde and liked to talk about her adult children. She also had an imaginary student named Murgatroyd that she would often reference if he was “doing something well” or “wasn’t following instructions.”

At one point in the school year, she told us a story about a student named Raymond. He was not one of her students, but in fact a classmate of hers from back in her own grade school days.

Raymond, Mrs. Dunham explained to us, had been held back so many times from having failed the fifth grade over and over that he was an actual ADULT sitting in her elementary school classroom.

She told us that Raymond was not good at school; he didn’t study or pay attention in class or do his homework or make good grades. And as a result, when she and the rest of her classmates finished up their fifth grade year to move onto middle school, they — like all of the other fifth grade students in the past — left Raymond behind.

She told us this story to demonstrate what would happen if WE 1) didn’t study or 2) pay attention in class or 3) do our homework or 4) make good grades.

So, did we, Mrs. Dunham asked her current class of fifth graders, want to end up as adults trapped in an elementary school classroom just like Raymond?

The facts according to Mrs. Dunham

  • Raymond didn’t try
  • Raymond would never amount to anything

The plot holes

Why the fuck would the school system keep a grown man in the same class as a bunch of children.

Something to consider

Mrs. Dunham was pretty old, times were different back in her day.

Something else to consider

Mrs. Dunham had an imaginary friend named Murgatroyd.

An open letter to Raymond, if you’re out there

Dear Raymond,

Wow, things have been pretty tough, huh? What with you getting all the way through elementary school and then suddenly getting roadblocked at…