Uninvited, Unlicensed Adult by the Name of “Ken” Runs Wild at Stuy
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Clip clop. Clip clop. A horse whinnies. The sound of hooves thunder about the hallowed halls of Stuy’s seventh floor. In the far distance, a clatter echoes. Then a crash. The distinct sound of Ms. Maggio’s voice can be heard: “HEY! NO HORSES NEAR THE HYDROPONICS!” Some sort of aura, a vibe, can be felt in the air. Students pause in the hallways to lick their fingers and hold them up in the air, trying to parse the direction of the unfamiliar, pink-flavored wind passing through. Someone sniffs. And then—
“I KNOW WHAT THIS IS! IT’S KENERGY! CAN’T YOU FEEL IT?”
This is my report for AP Ken about how he came to be at our school. I’ll start at the very beginning.
Ken rides in, his luscious platinum locks sweeping the dirty ceiling blocks, but he doesn’t care. The Kenergy is all that matters now.
Ken has been busy cooking up a storm. We can’t blame students for failing to notice when Mattel’s leading man was listed to grace Lecture Hall B. He had been waiting his entire plastic life for the opportunity to crowd-surf (any kind of surfing is important when your job is Beach), so being met with crickets as he pulled open the doors of the lecture hall was a massive blow to his—if we’re being honest—fragile self-esteem.
“I am Kenough. I am Ken-OUGH!” Students peek their heads out at the strange chant.
Principal Yu emerges from the back of a growing crowd to lock eyes with this harbinger of change and Beach. “This is Lecture Hall B,” Yu mouths. “Just Be, Ken.”
Ken nods slowly. Then he puffs out his chest, his horse-patterned tie billowing in a breeze that no one else can feel. “FORGET CHEMISTRY. FORGET PHYSICS. YOU ONLY NEED ONE THING IN YOUR LIFE. AND THAT’S BARBI- I MEAN, JUST KEN. I’M YOUR WEIGHTLIFTING-BODY HAIR MOVEMENT-EQUESTRIAN ECONOMICS-RE-KEN-ERON COACH… AND FOR THE ESPECIALLY KEN-ERGIFIC ONES, YOUR BEACH MENTOR.”
“Not to worry,” Ken says, flashing his pearly whites. One kid’s glasses break from the glare. “I have a special surprise for you.”
“Do we get our lowest test grades dropped?” asks a naive little freshman in a high-pitched, hopeful voice.
“Ha! No. Something sooooo much better,” Ken says, making sure to flex all the appropriate biceps and schmiceps as he whips out a box from underneath the podium. Proudly, he takes out a piece of long, triangular-tipped material in the most eye-burning shade of pink.
“Matching ties for us all!” He starts throwing the fiery pink garments into the crowd with the enthusiasm of Santa Claus.
And so, a sea of students adorned with ties of the brightest pink fills the lecture hall, now looking more dazed than tired. Each of them mounts a horse issued to them by this strange, unlicensed character. As they head up the stairs on their mighty steeds to attend their first Klass, no one notices as Principal Yu straps on a pair of bright rollerblades and rides right out of Stuyvesant’s doors, coasting his way to freedom. The next morning, the students receive the following e-mail:
I’m not saddened to leave you after all these years, because I know I have the most Ken-erific successor. I was hesitant to even hire Mr. Kenough at first, but after two short days in his presence, I have discovered that nothing matters—nothing except horses, that is. I’m off to equestrian camp on Mr. Kenough’s recommendation, a place only reachable by rollerblades. I’m sure that Ken will make a win-neigh-ing principal for you all. He’s my mane guy, my ride-or-die. If you have any complaints, I invite you all to get off your high horses.
Previously, I asked Mr. Kenough, “What makes you qualified?” He paused. I feared for a second that my high estimations of Mr. Kenough might have been misguided, but his answer dispelled all my doubts: “Well, I’m great at doing stuff.”
And now you know.
But let’s return to the currently confused youngsters of Stuyvesant High School. A group of students (skeptics, perhaps, of Kenergy) huddle together outside the closed doors of the dance studio. Ken has chosen it for his new Principal’s Office so that he can check himself out in the mirror at a moment’s notice.
Ken takes a look at the current course catalog.
“Existentialism With Allan… what in the world?” He looks up from Talos to a sparsely filled room of boys he has renamed “Ken.” He clears his throat—a mechanical yet effortfully masculine sound.
“Alright. First order of business. I need to organize all of you into one big Kenglomerate. But let Me-ttel you one thing. In order to practice a little something I learned about from Barbie called, uh… ‘democracy,’ I invite you all to say either ‘yay’ or, alternatively, if you’re against the team of change and goodness, ‘neigh.’”
“What’s ‘democracy’?” a Ken from the Stuy Patriots Club asks.
“Well I wouldn’t dare Ken-splain it to you, so can we just circle back to that. Okay? Okay.”
A chorus of neighing rises up, but instead of faltering, Ken can only smile at the sound his favorite animal makes. “Kens, is there anything going on at this school I should bring Kenergy to?”
A voice pipes up. “Well, there’s the fall musical. They’re putting on Anastasia, and I’m really excited for the costumes.”
“Oh my Gosling! Ahem. Oh my gosh! Ken: The Musical is my absolute favorite musical of all time. should audition! Ooh! Maybe I can play the guitar at them! I have this 90-minute original piece that I’ve just been dying to test out on a living audience.”
The bell rings. Ken immediately forgets what he was talking about, and starts beaming because it’s time for him to teach his first class.
Though he initially argued that he was well-qualified to teach Spanish II, knowing four essential words (mojo, dojo, casa, and house), the administration decided to make him a student-teacher in Music Appreciation. Ken offers a high-five to the first student he sees, and is dismayed to see a very young boy looking up at him. “You’re not a senior?” Ken asks, with considerable apprehension.
He’s muttering to himself when, with a snap of his fingers, a beat starts to play. An electric guitar strums and reverberates outside of the halls, and he muses: “I don’t get it. Anywhere else I’d be a ten-th grade teacher!” The students start rising out of their seats, unable to resist. A flash mob begins. Music teacher Harold Stephan starts pulling out his hair in horror.
So here we are. In any other school, the chaos that ensued would lead to Ken Kenough’s immediate termination, but because Ken earned the rest of the administration’s admiration by redirecting the Tribeca bridge to Starbucks, he quickly advanced to the next level: teaching his own subject.
AP Ken was unveiled as a class to all grades just after the Music Appreciation debacle, and when only three students applied, Ken went ahead and made the AP class mandatory (it’s AP Precalculus all over again). He then took the next logical step and turned Stuy into a boarding school—a surprising albeit necessary decision, as he explained to worried parents in an e-mail after four days of keeping the school in lockdown:
“There’s just so much Ken to explore that day-classes won’t be enough to cover it all. I assure you I’m not mistaKen. Your little Kenlings will be released after the AP Ken exam in July.
Have a Ken-ceptional day!”
Here is a sample question so you can gain a better understanding of the exam:
- You ask Barbie if you should wear your pink flamingo shorts or llama shorts for Beach. She tells you to do what feels right to you. Which ones should you wear and with what shoes?
- Flamingo shorts + bespoke neon rollerblades that will catch Barbie’s eye
- Llama shorts + custom Yeezys with “I Heart Barbie” written all over them
Answer: TRICK QUESTION. You don’t live for Barbie’s approval. The correct answer is that you want to wear your comfy sweatpants and fluffy slippers and sit at home binging Eat, Pray, Love.
And so, I will have to end my report here. Mom, if you’re seeing this, please come pick me up.
One of the students trapped inside the building, anxiously studying for the exam
P.S. If I don’t get a five, Ken says I’ll have to stay another year.