Schoolgirl Crush

He was a popular teacher at Council Rock South — renowned for his dedication to his students. She was a high-school senior — pretty, smart, and going places. At a time when the divide between child and adult is harder and harder to find, was their next step nearly inevitable?

 Jane, July 2nd:
Hi Baby!
I can’t wait to see you again tomorrow. I used to always get excited to see you earlier in the year, but I never thought it’d come to the point that I see you so rarely that it’s the highlight of the month. Yay! …

Hawkins, July 3rd:
Day #2 of building … a new life together is ending, as day #3 begins yet another sturdy part to our foundation. I will always love you, and protect, support and RESPECT you. You are my everything — let me be yours!

Jane, July 5th:
I am so high and Free Fallin’ is a great song … I have so far listened thrice. You are incredible. I had an amazing night with you baby! Italian hoagies are now fantastic. Let’s get Whitehouse hoagies in AC sometime. Do you know why a hoagie is called a hoagie? Now you know. Sorry I didn’t blow you.
I love you so much.
Forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and …

Jane — caught between being a child and a woman. Adam Ali, her stats classmate who’s known her for a decade, puts the firmest stamp on why he thinks she crossed the line into Robert Hawkins’s bed:

“Because she could.” Because she came of age at a time when we’ve made it oh so easy for her to do exactly that, for her to turn in Robert Hawkins’s direction.

Jane’s view was finally turned the other way by Northampton Township police, who revealed that she was hardly the sole beneficiary of Robert Hawkins’s attention. In early August, she wrote to him:

I went to talk at the police station the other day and learned a lot. I feel like an idiot and I was just wondering if I was stupid to think that anything that happened this year was real. And if [you’d] really done this exact thing before a year back. I’m just wondering if the police are making up stuff to make me give them more info, or if what they’re telling me is true.

Jane finally understood that a crime had been perpetrated upon her.

And how, in the end, do we understand her role? We are long past surprise over the fact of a 17-year-old’s sexuality, or mild drug use, or deceit on these matters. In fact, there was a rumor that spread quickly through the Council Rock world once her affair came to light: that Jane and a fellow senior had made a bet, on who could sleep with a teacher first. The rumor remains unfounded, but the seemingly universal view that the bet was certainly plausible, even between two National Honor Society -students — that too, speaks to how accepting, or numb, we’ve become, over matters of adolescent behavior. In the end, the only thing Jane is really guilty of is making a bad choice in boyfriends. In that, she screwed up royally.