The first third-grade class she taught at St. Mary’s school
Thirty four students and one big old Golden Rule
Sister Helen had a way with the kids
Too much talking was about the worst thing they did

One boy in particular was suited to gab
Though the good Sister Helen was not prone to get mad
One day he called her bluff, so she had to go through with it
She taped up his mouth because she threatened to do it

The months flew by, that school year passed
Sister Helen was moved up to junior-high math
That’s where she instructed for several years
When a student, a young man named Mark reappeared

More handsome than ever, now in the ninth grade
"Thank you for teaching me, Sister," he said
She remembered his scene with the tape that one year
And when she finally had laughed how the whole class had cheered

Mission accomplished, the kids were amazed
And a cloud had been lifted that lasted for days
And the talking in class had been cut down to size
Oh, Sister Helen was wise

One particular Friday in 2 PM class
The students were struggling with all the New Math
So she told 'em to close up their books and their brains
"Take out two sheets of paper and list all their names."

Then she asked them to write down at least one thing they could
That they liked about every one else in the room
She collected the papers as all were dismissed
And on Monday each student got his or her list

Mission accomplished, the kids were amazed
And a cloud had been lifted that lasted for days
And the New Math was easier to tally and twist
In the ninth grade where Sister Helen made up those lists

Several more autumns and more graduations
Sister Helen returned to the school from vacation
To the news that a boy she'd seen go to the prom
Didn't quite make it home from Vietnam

The funeral was Monday and Mark's parents had asked
If Sister Helen could come to the mass
And so she was the last one in line at the casket
When a young man in uniform walked up and asked her

"You were Mark's math teacher, weren't you?" he stared
"He talked about you quite a lot over there."
Then then funeral gathering went off to Chuck's place
A classmate of Mark's from way back in third grade

Mark's father approached her "We've something to show you"
He pulled out Mark's wallet "We feel like we owe you so much"
And he handed her two sheets of paper
Taped over and over and over again

And there in her hand she was holding Mark's list
While Mark's mother said, "Thank you so much for this."
And then one by one Mark's ninth-grade classmates came 'round
To tell Sister Helen they still had their own

Vicki took hers from her handbag right there
"Mine's in the front of my diary," said Marilyn
Charlie kept his on his office desk
"Mine's in our wedding album," Chuck said

Mission accomplished, the kids were amazed
Though "the kids" were now grown men and women these days
And the New Math was easier to tally and twist
Since the ninth grade where Sister Helen
Had made up those lists


Lyrics submitted by bananahero

Sister Helen's Lists song meanings
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