Tag Archives: high school

Pomp and Circumstance… and Patina

I went to my high school reunion last Saturday. The 30th reunion. Sheesh, where has the time gone?

I used the dread these things, nervous about how I would be perceived by my former classmates. But after 10 or 20 years, you start to relax and just enjoy the experience. This one had it’s particularly good moments.

Almost as an afterthought, we reached out to a few teachers to see if they could come. Four of them did, and among them were:

  • My band director. Mr. L was a fiery conductor. We all loved and feared him at the same time. I can still march a 22.5 inch step from my marching band days.
  • One of my favorite English teachers. Mr. D taught me to read novels with an eye for what the author was saying about life and society. I never wrote a good essay for him, but his passion for literature spurred me to read with more understanding.
  • My favorite history teacher. Mr. M taught ancient civilization, but was a true Renaissance Man. He taught history well, but was gifted in the theater arts. I had the privilege of working for him in both school and community plays. It was a  great pleasure telling him that I chose my college degree (social studies education) because of him.

I received a crushing bear hug from a fellow choir member who happened to be a gold-glove boxer in his younger days. He was among the many black students that came to my school when we merged districts. I was painfully reminded of my initial fear of kids who were different than me, and of my gratefulness that they were a part of my young life. Looking back, I wish that I had made more friends like him in school.

I got to talk to old friends that I seldom contact, to marvel at what they’ve become. Some have grandchildren already. Some have experienced the death of a spouse. Many look back on their younger years and smile at their ability to still emulate those days, while others chose a completely different path as young adults, and relish at their accomplishments today. Others still, have completely reinvented themselves and are enjoying a new start in adult life.

They’re all remarkable stories. I’m the richer to have heard them that night.

So here’s to the McCluer North Class of 1983.



Don’t ask me what stirred up the memory – I have no idea.

My high school required a semester-long gym class for all sophomores. It was called “Conditioning,” and segregated by gender. I don’t know what the gals did, but we guys spent the time doing a series of different activities, from weight training to running, and touching on most of the sports. I actually think it was an opportunity for the coaches to see if there were any potential recruits for the varsity teams, but that’s not important right now.

Everyone was benchmarked at the beginning on stretching ability, body fat, and time of running a mile. Your grade at the end of the semester was based upon the percentage of improvement from your initial scores, rather than compared to your classmates – a pretty cool concept, really, especially for guys like me who were (are), at best, mediocre athletes.

So at the end of the semester, we’re doing our mile run times again, and I’m really dragging on the last lap. I mean, I’m ready to quit.

And then I heard somebody yell out my name. My dear friend, Molly, whom I had known since our church nursery days, was with her gym class on the tennis courts, which overlooked the track around the football field. She was a cheerleader and an incredible gymnast.

For some reason, when she saw me on the track, apparently looking like a wounded animal about to give up the ghost (sorry ‘bout the mixed metaphors), she broke into her cheerleader voice and yelled:

“Go, Tony! Go! Go! Run!”

I knew the voice immediately as I heard it, and from somewhere came a burst of energy. I picked up the pace. And as she yelled my name again, “Go, Tony!” I found myself sprinting around the last turn into the straightaway toward the finish line.

I cut 30 seconds of my time from the beginning of the semester. No coaches approached me to play on their teams, but I didn’t care. I was exhausted, thrilled, and grateful for my cheering friend. I’m crying as I remember all these years later.

Child of God, who do you need to encourage today? Who comes to mind right now as you read this sentence? Make the effort to contact that person and break out your cheerleading voice. Go! Run!

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