The smell of lockers with aged chips and stale sandwiches crammed in the bottom, with gym clothes on top that needed to be washed two months ago… I miss it. The ring of a bell and the herds of students pouring out of doors slamming into one another while the pretty girls get to have their books carried by adoring teenage boys, I miss it. The geeks speaking in hushed tones of the avatars they will become when they conqueror the world of elves and warcraft, I miss it. Students: jocks, cheerleaders, dweebs, anime artists, coders, motorheads, aggies, norms, Pink Ladies, and the T Birds, I miss them all.
If you are afraid of growing old, afraid you are no longer relevant in your field, or if you miss being a combat soldier, or grow tired of climbing Mr. Everest year after year. Let’s face it—are you bored? Try teaching high school or middle school. Or at least volunteer to help when we have school back again. I did both, and for the most part, I loved every minute of it. You never grow old with each class showing you what youthful enthusiasm can do to your attitude. Students from 13 to 18 are where children become contributing adults. When you teach these ages, you get to see it happen every year.
Recently “Grease” and “Grease 2” were on television, followed by “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” “Grease” plays to students in the 50s and “Grease 2” to my generation in the 60s. The writers, directors and actors got it right. All these shows inspired the viewer with the excitement of what it means to learn. But it was more. All these movies made fun of the things we, too, made fun of when we were in school. Subject knowledge, the facts, were a part of school, but the camaraderie was most of it. That is what computer teaching cannot provide.
Sandy says to Danny, “You better shape up cause I need a man and to my heart, I must be true.” You must see Sandy’s black sooo skin-tight slacks to believe this request! Danny, main man of the T Birds, goes out for track and earns a letter sweater to make her happy. The morale of the story? Each gave to the other. It is a Romeo and Juliet moment, without the dying. It shows the unselfish moment of adulthood. “Grease 2” skips cars and goes right to motorcycles. A British boy from Australia becomes the “masked rider.” He thrills and charms both guys and girls. And the movie ends up with, “We’ll Always Be Together.”
High school means that to those lucky enough to go. This spring I felt so sad for those who did not walk at graduation. This year it was a matter of life or death. There was another time this was true.
During WWII, my Dad joined the Navy right off a farm in Iowa, at 15. He lied, said he was 16 and became a radio operator. Back from the war, he married my mother, worked all day and went to High School at night. In 1947, I was born, and Dick Ramsden officially became a graduate from Fort Dodge High School. He lost three years of high school for a good reason. There was a world war. Now our students face a world pandemic.
Those at Hobbs High did an amazing thing recently. It was from an idea of a Dr. Quinton of Alabama. How to make a video that people would listen to? It was Hammertime… “Can’t touch this.” Lucky break, most of the teachers and staff have been vaccinated. I spoke with Chelsea Wantland. She explained with the help of Starla Jones and the blessing of Mr. William Hawkins from Human Resources, that they came up with a “Welcome Back & Be Safe” Oscar worthy video. With singing, dancing, comedy, outstanding lyrics, it was filmed in four days. Genius! I watched it on tv last night. As a former student, (I attended Hobbs High for two days in September 1963), I am a fan. The Eagles have been heroes in both academics and sports. When there is a state title to be won the “Eagles have landed.” (I stole that line!) The video includes teachers, cafeteria workers, maintenance folks, custodians, nurses, and secretaries. It even has a coach trying to take a temperature on a basketball. And don’t forget the star doing “caterpillar move” on the ground, Principal, Mr. Alfredo Turrubiates. Congratulations Hobbs High. It has been 56 years since I attended high school, but I would sign up with these guys again. Roaring Mouse, studying for my ACTs… out.