Monday, September 22, 2008

for my HS paper

Today I was asked to write an editorial for my high school paper's back to school edition. They're having alumni write some pieces and have a lot of space to fill, I guess! This is what I've come up with. I'd love your feedback before I send it off to be immortalized in Cat Tracks!

The other day one of my friends posted a bulletin on MySpace about high school. (Yep, I am over 30 and have a MySpace. I also have Facebook, but that's a column for another day!) You've probably seen it. It asks about people you dated, who you sat with at lunch, your favorite teachers, and what you'd do differently. You know the one. I've never filled it out on-line, but each time my friends post a bulletin or note, I go over my own answers in my head.
Who did I date? Mostly, I spent my time with an amazing guy from Yates Center that I met at church. Was I in love? You betcha. Andy and I met my freshman year and dated off and on into college. We went our separate ways about 10 years ago and I've only seen him once since then. He was the center of my high school world, but now my life centers around a completely different amazing man and three marvelous children God has blessed us with.
In high school my group of friends fell somewhere in the middle of the social spectrum. We weren't total outcasts and we weren't Homecoming Queens. Most of us played a sport or two, but not well enough to matter. We got decent grades and stayed out of trouble. Of the girls at my lunch table, I could probably tell you a little about the current lives of most of them, but not any real details. Now I only really know one of them. And truth be told, up until about three years ago, I hadn't talked to her since graduation. We've become friends now, not because we ate together in high school, but because lately our lives have taken parallel courses. Of the lunch table crowd, there are some that I thought would be real friends for life, but life is a lot longer than high school…by my second semester of college I really only kept in contact with one or two high school friends.
My favorite high school teachers had to be Mr. Kuhlmann and Mr. Loewen. I was lucky enough to have had Mr. Kuhlmann for both junior history and senior government. Two of my most vivid memories of BHS are of him. He literally ran into the wall then fell to the floor to demonstrate the futility of a battle. (I think it was between Russia and Germany during WWII, but it's been a long time ago and I'm not entirely sure!) On his classroom walls and floors he created maps of the places we were studying using masking tape. He would jump from country to country on the floor as he taught. Years later, when I had my own classroom, I used this for inspiration and taught the states of the southwest that way one year. Throughout my teaching career, I have often asked myself, "How would Bart Kuhlmann teach this?" when I wanted to be creative and really reach my students.
Mr. Loewen taught business and coached volleyball. In my typing class (yes, I'm old enough that I didn't get keyboarding, but typing—on a typewriter, even!) he told us we should start as few sentences with "I" as possible. He told us that we would appear less selfish and come across better if we varied our sentence beginnings and eliminated "I" at the starts. That's a skill I've used even in writing this today. Coach L always sat with us it the back of the bus and told the lamest jokes. I sure loved that guy. As fate would have it, a decade later, I ended up teaching one of his sons in fifth grade. (You never know how life's going to circle around on you!)
As for what I'd do differently…well, I think I'd have been less busy. If you ever check out a 94 yearbook, you can see that I did a little bit of everything in high school. My hand was in everything from sports to FHA to President of StuCo to yearbook to drama to editor of this paper and everything in-between. And sorry, Coach V, but I think I should have played basketball instead of managing the wrestling team. That would have kept me from flirting with all those boys and kept me in better shape!
I would also have tried harder to really love people, no matter who they were. When asked what a person must do to get into Heaven, Jesus gave this answer (and I'm totally paraphrasing here), "Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And really, really love people." It's taken every bit of 32 years for me to begin to learn how to do this well and here I am, still learning. Had I been able to really, really love people the way Jesus does, maybe I could have made more of a positive impact on the world, or at least on the corner of it that is Burlington High.
The next time you run across one of those high school surveys on MySpace or Facebook, fill it out. Some 14 years later, pull it out and look at it again. You'll be surprised at how much your thinking has changed and how little or how much importance you gave things. For now, just work on these two things; love God and love people. You'll never have to regret that.