Guest Writers

Buzz Champion: Guest Post by Kelly K.

Kelly K.

My guest blogger today is Kelly K. Kelly has a zillion blogs. Just kidding. Sort of. But seriously, she writes a lot.

Dances with Chaos is where she shares the good, bad, and chaotic about her life. There’s Writing with Chaos where she responds to prompts from Write on Edge.

Kelly’s other blog, I Survived the Mean Girls, is a site for individuals who feel bullied and alone to see many have been there, survived it, and that it is possible to be stronger because of it. Guest submissions make that site work, so if you are interested in writing something for Kelly K. please contact her. You can also follow that blog at @OstracizedTeens.

In real life, Kelly K. has been beyond helpful to me. When I had my meltdown, Kelly K. was there. She is an amazing “fryber” (my made-up word for a cyber-friend) and a fearless writer devoted to expressing herself in as many ways as possible. Her twitter handle is @danceswithchaos. Feel free to subscribe to all her blogs and follow her. I know I do.

• • •
Buzz Champion

Knots twisted my stomach as I stood in front of the class. All eyes focused forward.

On me.

On our teacher.

“Start whenever you’re ready, Kelly,” Mr. Wicks told me, patiently waiting.

“One,” I said, confident. The beginning was easy.

“Two.” He answered quickly.



“Five.” I stared at him, blocking out the rest of my fourth grade class.


“Buzz.” I grinned. I knew better than to fail this early.

He smiled back. “Eight.”



“Buzz.” I smiled again.




Of course, he wouldn’t freeze on the first one. “Fifteen.”


“Buzz.” Would today be the day I finally triumphed?


My palms grew sweaty again, just like several minutes earlier when I’d faced the last classmate standing – finally taking him down to win the title for our class: Buzz Champion.

The numbers climbed and our pace slowed. On each turn, I frantically ran through the lists of Buzz numbers: multiples of seven, numbers with seven in it, matching double digits like fifty-five.

“Eighty-five?” My answers became hesitant, my knowledge of anything past seven times twelve no longer committed to memory.


“Buzz.” What was the next multiple of seven?


What number were we on now? “Eighty-nine?”



He smiled but didn’t speak and I knew.

I had failed. Again.

Mr. Wicks turned and shook my hand. “Congratulations, Kelly.”

He clapped his hands, directing his applause at me.

The class joined in.

I turned to face them, spying looks of awe for battling so high.

I smiled.

I’d get him next time.

• • •

I never beat Mr. Wicks in Buzz, but I did manage to last past one hundred a few times.

I was undefeated in my class for the year.

Mr. Wicks was unique. He was fun and engaging.

He played games like Buzz to make multiplication interesting.

He made you want to please him.

Mr. Wicks saw I thrived on a challenge, and he gave it to me. He never let me win. He wore his pride in my attempts as though I had won.

I was only ten years old, but mourned for the class behind me, because he left our school to become vice-principal at another.

I mourned for all students, because he wouldn’t teach anymore.

As I learned his fate and we turned in our textbooks, he pulled the piece of paper off the wall where it had hung all year long, accumulating names.

“You won more than anyone else. Would you like to keep this, Kelly?”

I reached for the paper, donning a proud smile at how often my name appeared. “Yes.”

I still have it today.

And every time I look at it I grin, remembering the little girl who believed she could defeat her teacher at Buzz.

And I want to thank him.

Buzz Champion -- 1987

In which subject did you kick butt while you were in school? Do you have any weird old elementary school mementos that you keep around?

• • •

If you have writing chops and are interested in submitting a teacher memory, write about one teacher you had and explain how that person helped you (or really screwed things up for you), as well as the life lesson you took away from the interaction.

Essays should be around 700-800 words.

Interested but have questions? Email me!

My information is under the Contact Me tab.

22 thoughts on “Buzz Champion: Guest Post by Kelly K.

  1. Great post. I totally remember my dad playing that game with us at the dinner table. We called it “Bim, Bam, Buzz”. Bim was multiples of 3, Bam was multiples of 5, and Buzz was 7. Unfortunately I didn’t do as well as Kelly. Oh well. It was still fun.

    Do you remember him doing that, Renee? I think he used to do it at my birthday parties and Thanksgiving dinner, too. 🙂

    1. Seconding this! I enjoyed math growing up, but I did not enjoy math when I had to tutor my mom at it. She believed she couldn’t do a problem–any problem!–before she’d even met it, something I’ve seen reflected time and again since.

      I’m no accountant, but I love the predictability of numbers. Unlike people, you perform functions and can anticipate exactly the response. That’s priceless.

      I still remember my MATH 112 teacher fondly for making math jokes and generally inspiring his students with his zeal. When I started Calc, I regretted (for those brief moments I was awake) that my new teacher didn’t share this evident passion.

  2. I’m with Clay. It occurs to me that both sides of your brain work really well. You write like a fiend and I’m guessing you do the taxes, too.

    Math was, for me, a horror. Oh, I liked my teachers well enough — except for my second grade teacher who told me my 5’s looked like “S’s” — but math remains a mystery to me. Thank goodness for Excel spreadsheets. And for my neighbor who helps me to set them up each semester.

    I have one elementary school memento. I came in first place in the Crab Race during the 3rd grade Field Days and someone made a construction paper blue ribbon and penned the words “1st place: Crab Race: Renée Schuls” on it. It’s nice to be good at something. 😉

    Thanks Kelly, for being an awesome writer and a great guest blogger!

    1. Um…

      You’re right. I do our taxes too.

      I used to love math.

      Except for geometry proofs. Why write out steps you already knew?

      Now I make excel spreadsheets do most of my math too. It’s very hard to do simple math with the volume in the background my children are capable of.

  3. Love this piece. And I too played buzz. In French. You just had to roll the z’s.

    I’m with Kelly. I like Math. And Chem was my best subject in high school; to me, it was Math that Makes Sense. And the interesting thing is that strong math and science students do really well in my English class. Not always quite as well as those naturally inclined to words, but really well.

  4. I was my school spelling bee champion for several years. One year, I was tickled that I won based on the word “kamikaze.” The word itself obviously isn’t that great, but I’d just worn a skating shirt the day before . . . brand? “Kamikaze.” 🙂

  5. I love this post, Kelly.

    It made me nostalgic for my third grade teacher…Mr. Hees.

    He would stand in front of the class and start with a number then add, subtract, multiply, divide randomly….for what seemed like five minutes but was probably more like thirty seconds.

    4 + 3 x 7 – 2 + 6 etc.

    At the end, he’d ask if anyone had been able to keep track of the correct sum.

    I won. A lot.

    But in fifth grade, my teacher asked if I was good at reading or math. I said “both” and she said, usually people are good at one or the other.

    I was crushed. I loved everything about words but I also was decent with numbers. Still. I had to pick. Because I couldn’t be good at both.

    I never enjoyed math after that year.

    It’s amazing, the influence certain teachers can have on a student. For better or worse.

    Hooray for Mr. Hees and Mr. Wicks.
    If only all teachers could be so inspiring.

    1. We have so much in common.

      It was why I was so sad (even at that age) to hear he was moving into a administrative position (vp or principal at another school). He was a loss to those who followed.

      I loved those math games. I think I need to brush up, but I have a hunch my son will LOVE them.

      We do need more Mr. Hees and Mr Wicks in the world.

      It is so ridiculous to hear you can only be good in either math or reading. I was a voracious reader at that age as well. I prefer to think of it as the “soak up everything you can” phase.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Kelly! Mr. Wicks sounds like he was an amazing teacher – I’ve never heard of a game like this for multiplication.

    P.S. – I LOVE your ‘I Survived the Mean Girls’ blog. (Pretty sure I see myself proposing a guest post to you one of these days since I know a thing or two or ten about the topic, LOL)

  7. Love this- amazing that you still have that paper, and I bet that you have better multiplication skills than those of us who had boring teachers who relied on rote memory. Thanks for the fun story- I’ll remember Buzz when it’s my kids’ turn to learn their multiplication tables.

  8. I love multiplication at that age. I remember in 3rd grade playing “around the world” with multiplication flash cards and I often dominated. There was only one boy who could usurp me.

    Wow… I haven’t thought of that in years.

    I obviously thrived on competition.

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