Natracare via Unsplash

The recent Montclair Local article on students seeking access to tampons in high school bathrooms, reminded me of my own dealings with the tampon situation.

The item below is a short vignette from my unpublished book “Thirty Years to Graduate,” based on my 15 years as the principal of Montclair High School.

It Pays To Write Tight Bid Specs

My office had two doors, which I kept open almost all the time. One led to the rest of the front offices. The other led directly into the main hall of the high school. Students, staff, and parents often walked directly into my office without going past my secretary, who sat directly outside my door, which led to the rest of the offices.




In the upper left drawer of my desk I kept $20 in singles and change and a supply of tampons. Students who needed money for lunch or some other emergency would take what they needed and left an IOU. At the end of each day, I would balance out the remaining money and the IOUs, and almost every day the right amount was there. The tampons, I kept for those times when the nurse might be out of her office and some girl “might have an emergency.”

One day, a girl comes in and shows me an unwrapped tampon. “Do you see anything special about this tampon?” she asks.

I look and see nothing special. “It does not have a string.” She says. Indeed, it did not, so I unwrapped another one. Same thing, so I go down to the basement and checked the cartons containing additional supplies of tampons. More of the same. I went back to my office and called Bob Davis, the district’s business administrator, and told him my story. He had heard nothing about it, but promised to rectify the situation.

The next day I received an interoffice package containing a ball of string and a stapler. Bob Davis always had a great sense of humor but he was always efficient, and the supply was replaced and he promised that the bid specs would be more tightly written in the future.

I went back to my job description and looked at the last line: “and such other duties as shall from time to time be required …”

Tonnes Stave
Former Montclair High School principal, 1970-1985
Clinton Township resident


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