Sunday, June 22, 2008

High School Legacy

Recently, an old friend from high school has created a blog for our graduating class (1986 rocks!).

It's pretty cool to see and read about how folks are doing now.

But it has also made me think a lot about high school, and what made it such a special time of life. Was it just our age? That teenage, raging hormones, crazy-growing-up time? Or were there special components that created (what I remember as) a bubble of intensity. Heart throbs, heart aches, initial profound thoughts, unique, once in a lifetime experiences.......what was it?

I am also curious about the lasting effects of high school. As a homeschool mom, I often wonder about the fine line between protecting my kids from destructive influences and depriving them of positive, influential experiences.

With that in mind I have three questions:

• What was the high school influence or experience that had the most positive lasting influence on your life?

• What negative high school influence or experience do you wish you had avoided?

• When you think of high school, which memory makes you the most proud?

I'll go first.

When I look back, I find it hard to pick just one positive influence. So, I'm going to cheat and pick two.

1.) Sr. Martinez - Spanish teacher for junior and senior years. He was kind, respectful and saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. Plus he was a darn good teacher. He cared about me and believed in me when I was going through rough times. I still dream in Spanish occasionally. And dream of going to Spain again!

2.) Amigos de las Americas - a summer service project in rural Mexico. It was the my first exposure to another culture. And my first experience of poverty. I learned that people there seemed even happier than most Americans I knew. When I came back I was overwhelmed by all the food, luxury, convenience and just plain stuff we have here. It changed my world-view completely.

Negative experience? Aside from a few major heartaches, I'd say a negative influence was the general cliquey-ness of high schoolers. It's pretty brutal to not "fit in" any one group when all you want to do is be a part of something. I'm not saying I was socially adept, just that it was difficult if not impossible to make new friends and break into new groups by junior and senior year.

My proudest moment was probably when Mr. Friss praised a paper I had written about Lady Macbeth, and asked me to read it out loud to the class. To be singled out was slightly embarrassing, but you can be sure I still picture Lady Macbeth vividly to this day.

How about you?