Friday, September 07, 2007

You're in High School Again--No Recess!

Young lovers in town share each others dreams
While they're riding around while the stereo screams
Then they go to the Dairy Queen and they share ice cream
Young lovers in town share each others dreams
--The Bottle Rockets, "Young Lovers in Town"

There is something amazingly wonderful about being a teacher of high school aged kiddos. I know I have spent a good deal of space now and again carping about something or other that makes my job troublesome. It's true that teaching, be it high school, middle school (God bless you all), elementary school, university, whatever, is a tough job. It wears you out, sometimes. But, it must have some reward, or else we who do it would not do it for the sometimes embarrassingly small amount of money that we get paid. And one of those rewards is the joy of spending time with young people who are mostly innocent, mostly trying to comprehend their world on some adult level, and who are beginning to realize that the childhood hour glass is running low. They are (as we all once were, I guess) swirling masses of emotion, confusion, inquisition. They are sleepy, spastic, goofy, deathly serious, curious, and disinterested. All of them. And they are all these things simultaneously. It really is kind of beautiful.

I was sent into this line of thought by my first block today. This afternoon was the big rivalry football game, and the kids were giving me the low-down (newbie that I am) on the rivalry. I kind of laughed. I explained that, while I did not know the deal with their rivalry, I did have some experience with the concept. After all, every school has a rival, does it not? But what made me laugh was that my current school has only been in existence for six years. For the juniors in my first block, that didn't really matter. They have attended the school since they were freshman. They were ten when the building was completed. It has consisted relatively forever for them. I told them about the rivalry at my high school in Baltimore. My freshman year was the 100th year of my school's existence. The rivalry between Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (my alma mater) and Baltimore City College, is now in its 118th year. It was a REALLY big deal. One of the oldest rivalries in the country. They used to play the game on Thanksgiving Day in old Memorial Stadium. I didn't make light of my students rivalry, at all. That would have been wrong. But I did make it clear that I was down with rivalries.

This discussion was followed by a discussion I had with a colleague about pep rallies, one of which we had at school today. We were talking about the difference between pep rallies no and pep rallies back in the day. We never had pep rallies where I used to teach. We had big ones at BPI. My colleague speculated, due to the lack of student enthusiam for pep rallies in the past five years or so, that the concept of the pep rally is dead. this got me thinking about those old high school days a bit more. But, it's no wonder that I am looking back to those days more often here of late.

This month, my graduating class is celebrating our 20th reunion. I will not be attending, but I have been thinking about that phase of my life. It was a pretty good time. I had some great times with some great people. None of them are a part of my life, anymore (except my brother and a blogger friend). It wasn't the best time in my life, and I thank fate for that. It is a sad life, I imagine, if the high point comes at 17. However, it was a wonderful time of trying to figuring things out--relationships, time management, social interaction, financial responsibility, safe driving, testing boundaries. I did a number of really stupid, almost death-defying things in those four years (and a few years after them). I am lucky, considering the lack of wisdom involved in my decision making process, that I made it through some of them unharmed or un-arrested. But, I wouldn't alter the course of those years. Not much anyway.

To bring this home, I get reminded of the thrill and the angst, the love and the fear, the awesome and the awful of those years everyday. Some days I am too wrapped up in doing my job to allow myself to get lost in nostalgic thoughts, but today I was visited by the memory express. I enjoyed the brief ride.


Jami said...

20th too. I will definitely be going, in fact, my sister and I just hosted the first of twelve big gatherings
(pre-reunion-reunions if you will). It was a BLAST. We are also building a float for the Homecoming Parade-bet you'll never guess who's in charge of that. Jay Pride...getcha some!!!

Heard MM was in BoCoMo this weekend but it could have just been a rumor.

On a sad note, Phil and Nicole's dog Lobo died unexpectedly on Thursday. It goes without saying but Phil is having a really difficult year.

comoprozac said...

20th? Man, you're old.

I think it's important for teachers to be able to relate their own experiences growing up to their students'. It keep you in-touch with their needs and keeps you engaged.