Principal Rhodes' Wild Ride
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||altometer, ascension, balloonists, declaim, dew-covered, ear-splitting, igniter, loath, melodious, multicolor, prudent, rip-stop, soapsud, thumbs-up, waist-high, determined
||Principal Rhodes, Ronald Rhodes, Rick Rhodes
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Principal Rhodes' Wild Ride
By Brenda B. Covert
1 Principal Rhodes was a gentleman with chronic allergies, a passion for exotic birds, and minimal patience for juvenile delinquents. His abhorrence for rule-breakers was widely known. Many of his students believed him to be bereft of compassion, an accusation he would acknowledge with a grim smile. With an impudent air borne of ignorance, they assured themselves that Principal Rhodes had no life other than the middle school. He probably slept in the teachers' lounge over the weekend and read the students' files for entertainment.
2 Principal Rhodes was loath to persuade them otherwise. Instead, at opportune moments he would loudly declaim his views on corporal punishment, detention, and alternative schools. According to him, all were a valid remedy for students' behavioral problems. His formal ways gave no hint of the secret known only by his secretary, whose wistful good-byes spoken in mellow tones revealed a longing to enjoy weekends as much as the principal did.
3 Principal Rhodes was an avid balloonist.
4 The brilliant rays of the early morning sun shone through soapsuds clouds. The fragrance from yesterday's rainfall wafted on the gentle breeze that tickled the leaves of the maple tree growing tall by the corn field. Birds sang a melodious tune in the tree, and Ronald Rhodes took a deep, cleansing breath.
5 "C'mon, buddy," Rick Rhodes said, punching Ronald in the arm. "Time waits for no man."
6 Ronald shot his brother a look of annoyance, but he pulled on his leather gloves just the same. They both tugged at the giant three-sided wicker basket, which fell from the truck bed with a thud. Turning it on its side, Ronald pulled out a large nylon bag. "Here," he said. "Start laying out the envelope." Balloonists call the rolled up balloon an envelope. It's made of rip-stop nylon and stored inside a bag to protect it from damage.
7 While Rick unrolled the balloon on the grass, Ronald checked the altimeter, the balloon temperature gauge, and the compass, as well as the propane tanks and the fuel line that ran from them to the burner in the center above the basket. Rick looked up from the cord he was drawing out from the top of the envelope - the crown line - and asked, "Are all systems go?" The answer was affirmative.
8 Next the brothers attached the envelope to the overturned basket, and Rick tethered the basket to the truck. Then he pulled a waist-high, gas-powered fan from the truck and positioned it near the mouth of the balloon. Ronald held the mouth open for the flow of air to enter. Rick started the fan, gave Ronald the thumbs-up signal, and ran to take hold of the crown line.
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