The Future of Miss Powers - Cover

The Future of Miss Powers

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 15

Danny knocked on the frame of the office door, while looking at the man who was wearing an extremely expensive suit. He was seated behind a very fancy looking desk. The man looked up at Danny, taking in his age and informal clothes. He frowned wondering if the kid was some secretary’s kid who was up here for the day selling band candy.

He asked, “Can I help you?”

“Are you Dr. Moore?”

“I’m Mr. Moore.”

“I’m Danny Markem.”

Mr. Moore glanced down at his appointment book and saw that he had an appointment with D. Markem. He looked up at Danny a little perplexed by the age of his visitor. He was the Vice-President of University Relations. Perhaps this had something to do with a high school outreach program. He rose.

“Come in, Mr. Markem.”

“Please, call me ‘Danny.’ You say Mr. Marken and I look around for my dad.”

“Why don’t you call me ‘Tom?’”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to be too forward,” Danny said.

Tom laughed with the precision of a man used to dealing with the public. He gestured to a chair and said, “You won’t be too forward. Have a seat and tell me why you’re here.”

“Thank you,” Danny said going over to the indicated seat. He stood by it waiting for Mr. Moore to sit down first.

Mr. Moore returned to his side of the desk and sat down. He watched Danny take a seat. “So what brings you here?”

“I’m a student here at the University Extension. I asked around for the name of someone who was an expert in public relations.”

“You’re a student here?”


“You look very young to be a student here. Pardon me for asking, but how old are you?”

“I’m fifteen.”

“Are you taking one of our community classes?”

“No. I’m a full time student, and will be finishing my freshman year this semester,” Danny said.

Wondering why no one had told him that they had a prodigy going to school here, he said, “What’s your major?”

“I’m majoring in Computer Science, with a specialization in Software Engineering.”

“That’s one of our new specializations in Computer Science,” Mr. Moore said rubbing his hands in delightful anticipation.

“I know. I will probably be in the first class that graduates with that specialization.”

“That’s wonderful,” Mr. Moore said. “What’s your GPA?”

“Perfect,” Danny said with a broad smile. “I think I’ll manage to keep that GPA. I got all A’s on my midterms.”


Mr. Moore was thinking that Danny was a University Relations dream. He was sure that they could advertise the new specialization by mentioning that one of the freshman in it, one who was only fifteen, was earning a perfect GPA. He could possibly hit up an alumni for a bit of money to fund a scholarship. The possibilities were endless.

“What brought you to my office?”

“As I said earlier, I asked around for the best person campus for public relations, and everyone said that you were the best. I made the appointment to see if you could help me with my problem. I didn’t realize you were a Vice President of the University. I thought you were a Professor, and that my problem might make a good assignment for a public relations class.”

“I’m intrigued. What is your problem?”

“I’m also a sophomore in high school.”

“You don’t have a high school degree?”

“No. I’ll be getting a GED. However, according to the terms of Dad’s divorce, I have to stay in high school for at least a year.”

“That must be rough,” Mr. Moore said thinking that this problem was going to require a very soft touch. “You’re here to see if you can’t mount a campaign to get out of high school?”

“No. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but the school is working with me on this matter. They took me out of some of the required courses, and let me into some of the advanced elective courses.”

“What courses?”

“Dance, music, art, and drama,” Danny answered.

“That’s an interesting choice. I guess that’s because they are easy A’s.”

Danny said, “Not at all. Mrs. Shapiro, my teacher in dance and drama, put it very well. Having a good idea is not enough. One must be able to sell it. Those courses were selected because they would help me in learning some of those sales skills. Dance is one of those essential arts that a successful man should know. Music is a way to help focus the mind. Art allows one to express an idea in a way that captures interest in a very direct manner, and Drama is all about presentation.”

“I’m impressed,” Mr. Moore said. “I’d like to meet Mrs. Shapiro. She sounds like an intriguing person.”

“She is intriguing. My problem isn’t related to the school work, but to my fellow students.”

Mr. Moore sat back thinking he was going to say goodbye to a good opportunity. “What is it?”

“It is a matter of public opinion. Marcus Aurelius said, ‘Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.’ The problem is, the opinions of my peers concerning me are quite negative. I quote people, I view issues differently than my peers, and I am not involved a sports program, although I could participate. From the perspective of my peers those differences make me ... creepy.”


Mr. Moore’s willingness to help took a sudden nose dive. The last thing he needed to do was to get the university involved with someone who had a reputation as being creepy. If anything were to happen, the political fallout could be tremendous.

“Yes, ‘creepy.’ Too many of them think that if you are quoting dead guys like Aristotle and Socrates, then you have some weird fascination with dead people. They think you’re into necrophilia or something. Don’t forget, these are sophomores in high school. They do have a very limited view of the world.”

Not even pretending to understand modern high school dynamics, Mr. Moore said, “Put in that fashion, it makes sense for there to be that disconnect between you and the students. By the way, that was a very appropriate quote. That was on the first page of my public relations class that I took when I was college.”

“So you can see my problem.”

“So what were you thinking of doing about it?”

“I was thinking that I need to put together a public relations campaign to change the opinion of my classmates.”

Mr. Moore sat back in his chair thinking about what Danny had said. On most days he would have wrapped up the meeting at this point, and gone on with his day. However, today he was in a more receptive frame of mind. Here was a fifteen year old kid, smart as a whip, and a student in good standing at the university. There was just enough here that he could use to everyone’s advantage.

Coming to a decision, he said, “I think I can help you. Of course, it is going to require a little help from you to further the university’s needs.”

“Like what?”

“Well, you are fifteen years old, and enrolled in one of our most difficult courses of study. You are making far better than good grades with your perfect GPA. We’d like to advertise that program a bit more, locally. It would help us if you were to give us some quotes, and allow your picture to be included in the article. We can then forward that article, with a letter on university letterhead, to your high school newspaper. This would get you double coverage regarding your peers: the local paper, and the school paper.

“This kind of exposure could shift opinion from a creep, to a mover and shaker who will be going places. You become someone to watch, in a positive sense.”

“That sounds okay,” Danny said.

“We also have some alumni who often help establish scholarships. You make a very good and persuasive argument, which we can use to have them set up a few new scholarships. One of which would go to you.”

“Dad would really appreciate that!”

“We can then announce the scholarship publicly and include the fact that you’re a recipient. Again, you’d get covered in both the local paper, and the school paper. Double coverage.”

“Interesting,” Danny said.

“Are there any high school areas where you can win some kind of award?”

“My art teacher wants me to submit one of my photographs to a photography contest. She says that I took the picture of lifetime.”

“Any chance of winning?”

Danny pulled out his cell phone and said, “Here’s the picture. It looks better full size.”

He handed the cell phone over to Mr. Moore. The man glanced down at the photograph expecting a picture of a puppy or something and then did a double take. The problem was that there just wasn’t enough detail in the small picture to get the full impact of the picture. He said, “I need to see this full size.”

Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out his thumb drive. “I’ve got it on here. You could look at it on your computer.”

Mr. Moore took the thumb drive. A minute later he was staring at his screen. He knew that he wasn’t an artist, and didn’t see things with an artistic eye. However, he did recognize a photograph that packed a punch when he saw one. This one packed a punch! With a bit of deft publicity, it could become one of those iconic pictures that represents the plight of the elderly infirm.

“Do you mind if I get one of our artists in here to look at this?”

“I don’t mind,” Danny said afraid that he was going to waste time that could be spent on solving his problems.

Mr. Moore made a call and then turned back to Danny. “One of the university graphic artists will be over in a few minutes. I must admit that I’m impressed by this picture.”

“Thank you.”

A minute later a woman walked into the office. She took one look at the screen and knew exactly who Danny was. She said, “Melanie Herd was crying when she described that picture to me over the telephone. I can understand why she was in tears. That is amazing. It is hard to believe that it was taken by a high school student. That goes right up there with the photograph of raising the flag at Iwo Jima.”

“Thanks. When I saw him and the poster like that. I had to take the picture.”


“Can it win photography contests?”

“You bet. Melanie is submitting it for a Lucie.”

“Is that good?”

“Yes. It is international in scope. He probably won’t win, but the exposure will be tremendous.”

“That’s very good. Thank you, Rose.”

“Before I go. Did you copy the picture?”


“Good. Close the viewer and give the thumb drive back to Danny.”

“Copyright issues?”


“I understand,” Mr. Moore said doing as instructed. He handed the thumb drive back to Danny.

Rose left the office. Mr. Moore looked over at Danny wondering if things could get any better. He thought about Danny’s problem. How does one fight a reputation as ‘creepy’? That was a tough nut, and positive press about being scholastically advanced wouldn’t solve it.

Mr. Moore asked, “Do you have a girlfriend?”


“Do you volunteer for any charities?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“I’m trying to find out what we can do to counter that label of ‘creepy’. This is a difficult label to counter,” Mr. Moore said. “If you were a celebrity, I’d get you in front of a couple of charities donating money and play up the humanitarian card. Someone who cares about the whales can’t be all that creepy. That’s not going to work for you.”

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