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Saturday, May 14, 2016

SAYING GOODBYE TO HIGH SCHOOL PT2

Here we are again.

The first time I wrote about visiting my old high school [here] it was in reflection of my own experience. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to know about OTHER students of MAHS. Luckily, there was ONE more opportunity to tour the halls, so I went back and this is what I found......

I tried to bring my best friend through school for a walk around, but had no luck. I was hoping he would help drag out some forgotten times we had, but instead, I got to talk to some strangers (and a few young ladies from '82 - It was nice to chat Cindy Hoover and Tina Spotts!) and had a great time listening to some familiar stories as well as an unexpected heartache.

I have spent many years in the insurance business talking to people I didn't know, so approaching folks on our home field was easy. I found so many fellow classmates happy to talk about their memories of being a Blue Raider. It didn't prepare me for a reminder that time doesn't ALWAYS heal wounds completely though.

In my last posting, I mentioned some names of those who didn't make it to this gathering. One I didn't bring up was Cindy Williams, who would have been class of '83. In speaking with Sharon Church today, she made tears almost spill out as she talked of missing her friend, Cindy. They would walk to school together and were very close. When Cindy passed, it took a long time before Sharon could deal with the loss. To many of us at that age, we had very few experiences with death. When it happens so young, the affect is much more profound than after we've attended a funeral or two. To think that happened over 35 years ago and still hits Sharon today shows the depth of their friendship. They were both obviously lucky to have each other in their lives.

I was fortunate enough to talk to Cheryl Weber, Class of '67, whom I caught around the gym. A most treasured remembrance was of her Mom attending basketball games, even as she went through chemo. She had nothing but good things to say about her time in these halls, years ago.

It was a nice variety of people coming and going, as I was fortunate to talk to students from 2007, 1979, 1969, 1990, and a few others. To some, the images from the past were a bit foggy. To others they are still crystal clear. The overwhelming theme was of those teachers that went above and beyond to make their subject interesting and fun. The teachers that stood out were the ones who got their kids involved. They made their kids feel special in showing that they cared. The same names kept popping up, most of which I never was fortunate enough to have. More than one person gave credit to their teacher for trying harder because of the extra push. We were lucky to have more than a few of those special people within these walls. It was almost unanimous that we felt good about being a Middletown graduate. I only hope that the future generations feel the same way in the new building.

There were teachers in MY time that I hadn't mentioned before that should have made more of an impression. Mr Scudder  wrote in my yearbook (and I of course forgot about!) who mentioned my utter failure with a young lady and my potential not being realized up to that point. Jeeze... I guess it was OBVIOUS to everyone... except ME!

Mr Stoffel was a science teacher that I think was a closet mad-scientist. He at least made class unexpected. I should have enjoyed this more as now I love the subjects he covered.

Mr Smeltz (US Cultures) actually came up in conversation with a friend of mine the other day. We each didn't apply ourselves in his class, except for goofing off.

Ms Maguffee tried her best to keep English interesting but I just couldn't get into it. Can I have a do-over?????

Mr Hart was my homeroom teacher and hoped I would go out for wrestling, which of course I never did. (I SHOULD have!)

Mr Fasnacht tried to talk to us as adults, but many of us (me included) weren't ready enough to appreciate this good guy.

Mrs Bivile wasn't my teacher but I had the pleasure to play tennis with her (and get BEAT repeatedly!).

Mr Atkinson was always smiling, but me being me, I didn't keep many memories of Biology. Maybe it's biological.

Mrs Raser was another English teacher.... need I say more???? All MY fault.

Mr Sollenberger's name came up again and again as an important figure from school. I should have taken more advantage of his wisdom...

I've missed mentioning many fine teachers but understand I was only a half-day for my junior and senior years. At the time I thought I was lucky. In retrospect, I SHOULD have applied myself much much more. Do YOU have any fond memories to share????

It made me smile when I saw a former student's face light up as they told a story of Mr or Mrs So and So, making the day better by being their teacher. It's obvious that it wasn't the walls of this school, the location, the lack of air conditioning or quality of the water that makes it special. It is the faculty we treasure. Those giving souls that wanted to make a difference in our lives. We will never forget how much they helped us in those difficult younger years. Not only giving us a great foundation of education to go on to college, but moving on to the working world as well.

I spoke with a member of the class of '73. They brought up an interesting thought. You've seen the painted picture of our Raider logo on the wall in the gym. The class of '73 was responsible for getting that done. There is a proposal by the same class in doing it again in the NEW gym. Sounds pretty cool right?

The gym was where so many folks headed for pictures. I remember the times we played dodgeball, wrestling, running, and of course, basketball. It was fun to play those games with people you didn't know. Sometimes you bonded and sometimes you found a new enemy!

The best athlete in my particular class was a basketball player. Yes YOU Keith. The Jefferies name goes back decades in our school history and we were lucky to have him and Tony back to back on the court and as our friends. The fascinating thing I found in my nosing around other people's memory was that the star athlete or the cheerleader was noticeably absent. Time has a way of minimizing their stature in life after school, and minimizing the importance of certain things in the grand scheme. We would all have wanted to BE them though, if even for one game....right?

I asked a few folks, if they could go back and talk to their younger-selves, what would they tell them? "Doing more" and "not taking the setbacks of school so hard" was a common statement. It seems life changes our values and goals, and sometimes school helps with that, sometimes not. In looking back, we see the bad times weren't really that bad. At the time they may have seemed like a never-ending tunnel to nowhere, but as we learn by living, we persevere and are stronger after. Most times the biggest influence on how much we get out of something is staring at us in the mirror. I know I didn't take advantage, but I am so glad others did.

I wonder how many people dusted off their old yearbooks and re-read the notes our friends wrote. Many people say they are still friends all these years later. School has a way of bonding like no other, and it is the easiest time to find someone we want to hang with. Facebook has made it easier to reach out and catch up with people that may have wandered off.

Time ran out on me as I wish I could have heard more stories of time spent in Middletown schools.... Please share HERE if you like!



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