Thursday, October 6, 2016

High School Reunions by Andy Jobson

I reached a milestone this year—30 years since high school!  And for the first time, I decided to take the time and trouble to travel back home to Slidell, Louisiana, to see some members of my graduating class.  I suspected that most of my closest friends wouldn’t be there, and I was right, but it was still relatively enjoyable.  I did decide, however, that while some things have certainly changed, other things never will.

Our first event was in a bar on a Friday evening for a ‘meet and greet.’  The good news was, it was well attended. The bad news was, it was well attended—the crush of people made conversations rather difficult, and southern Louisiana in June is hot, even after dark.  Of course, in our senior year, many people spent many Friday nights drinking somewhere (although I was not one of those people), so it was déjà vu all over again.  On Saturday night, we met at a nice establishment for a buffet dinner, but conversation was again limited due to extremely loud music.  Again, it reminded me of the high school dances I attended.  The photographer hired for the event made sure he got pictures of the football players, the cheerleaders, and the dance team.  For some reason, chorus, drama club, literary magazine, academic rally participants, National Honor Society—in fact, everything I did in high school—was deemed unimportant by this photographer.  Some things never change.

I did enjoy learning the occupations that various members of the class had pursued, and it’s interesting to see the surprises of people who rose far above what their high school record suggested. I’ll admit, one reason I hesitated to go back was that I worried a little about comparisons, just as we all did in high school.  I expect, since I graduated at the top of my class, most people thought I was among the more likely people in my class to become highly successful—which of course is a term that can be very difficult to define.  I think I am highly successful, as I am happily married, I enjoy my work, and I have a significant impact on dozens of students each year.  When I told people that I was a teacher, however, I generally got a reaction like “That’s great!”  or “I could never do that!” but then they didn’t really seem interested in hearing more.  I probably should have hunted down other teachers in the group to swap war stories.

I wish I had had more time to visit with classmates, and I wish more had been there to visit.  The experience did remind me, though, that our students will surprise us.  As a result, we need to make sure we’re investing in all of our students, not just those who seem “most likely to succeed.”  

An educator of 22 years, Andy Jobson has taught government, economics, and U.S. History. Currently teaching English literature at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, GA, he’s also  been an administrator, a STAR teacher twice, and taught elementary school with Teach for America.