Wow, between that and the recent discovery of an extrasolar planet with the longest-yet-discovered rotation around its sun, astronomers are finding some really, really good stuff recently.
No aliens yet, but I'd be pretty surprised if that discovery didn't come in my lifetime. (I know, I know, "exaggerate much?")
"Belkar is a horrible, loathsome, supremely selfish creature who behaves contemptibly, laughs at the pain of others, has no manners whatsoever, and whose mental acuity would be compared unfavorably to that of a table. And yet I find I still prefer him to you." --Vaarsuvius, The Order of the Stick
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Only suggestion I can offer is trying to find out what publisher the school uses for 8th grade books and work backwards from there. In all likelihood they've maintained the same publisher. As for going insane: