Once upon a time I was a student.

Not so long ago actually.  In fact, that time, not so long ago, I was a student at HHS, walking the halls with a backpack and laughing at my locker with my friends (yes back then we were smart and still utilized lockers.  I had magnetic poetry in mine, my friends and I would spend the time before school writing ridiculous sentences, all the while being shushed by the English teachers because we were too noisy at 7am).

My point?  I have forgotten some about my days as a student, but I haven’t forgotten the important things.  My memories are vivid and many.  The way I felt when I played the viola in Orchestra; there is nothing like being in the center of music, feeling it being created all around you.  I remember every “Grand Night for singing” and know the HHS fight song because of Ms. Winnie.  My love for literature is because of Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Gregory, the later of whom also advised GSA with which I was president.  Senior year I took TV and Video Production and met Mr. Bauer, the bane of my life that year, but he taught me everything I still use now.  As much as Bauer and I frustrated each other, it was the most fun in a class ever. I also know for a fact both Mr. Benson and Mr. Clauson thought I was crazy for taking Extreme Sports twice (back in the day, it really was extreme, mountain biking and swimming every day).  I loved these moments.

The Boy's Dressing Room in 2003
The Boy’s Dressing Room in 2003

But I also remember the frustrations.  I was never good, nor motivated to be better in Math, so those classes were a drag, but I found moments to make them better, friends, writing stories, day-dreaming (cell phones weren’t big then).   I remember thinking that some teachers could care less about me, and I know some didn’t know my name.  Sophomore year I was miserable, I didn’t have any classes with my friends and we didn’t even have the same lunch.  I had to make new friends, and while I did, a little part of me fell apart that year.

In talking to my students now, they tell me they all look forward to acting class or the play.  You have no idea how that is music to my ears.

We played card game such as Speed, Spit, BS and Egyptian Rat Race when off stage
We played card games such as Speed, Spit, BS and Egyptian Rat Race when off stage

As a student, my favorite part of my day was either Choir or Dance class (which was not at school).  Yes, I was a apart of theatre and Drama Club, but for the first three years of my life I didn’t really feel welcomed.  My freshmen year, I was one of two freshmen girls to get into the musical, which only had a cast of 26…needless to say the two of us were bullied by girls who didn’t get in.  Sophomore year I was Liat, in South Pacific, and every upper classmen girl refused to speak to me.  Then there was the drama about me having to kiss a senior boy who had a girlfriend and who would glare at me in the hallway.  Needless to say, I wanted to say “Grow up!”  but I didn’t and they didn’t.  Junior year… junior year… ah… I didn’t really participate in theatre junior year, I joined stage crew and that was my involvement in HHS theatre that year.

Then, I was a senior… I had had enough! Things were going to change.  After three years of having to deal with diva’s, cliques and egos, I was going to change everything!  I was going to –

Ok, well, I didn’t go out for Drama Club president if that’s what you were thinking…. heck no.  That was a popularity contest and Drama Club didn’t do anything anyway (ah, the olden days).

My sister and I in "Peter Pan"
My sister and I in “Peter Pan”

But things did change that year.  I wasn’t a lead, but for me that was perfect.  I played in the ensembles as Twin 1 in Peter Pan and July in Annie.  Actually, I can’t remember who I was, my sister and I played the twins in Peter Pan and the two orphans who fought in Annie.  My two best friends were in One Act with me and life was good.  We took the world by storm.  I was a friend with all ages of Theatre and Choir kids, the girls and I started a “Girls Night” where we watched ridiculous movies ranging from childhood sing-a-longs to movies about real serial killers.   It was the first year in my years at HHS, where people were friends with freshmen, as well as seniors.  I remember distinctly, people being very confused when three senior girls willingly hung out with kids younger then them.   That’s the way it should be!

Over the past four years I’ve been a teacher at HHS, I’ve seen the world I was apart of my senior year.  But something has disjointed us this year, I am seeing cliques forming and others feeling left out or not welcome.  Talk of choir being kids favorite is spreading more and more…that I’m not complaining about.  But I hope that both Choir and Acting classes can keep a person sane.  I hope rehearsals are a welcome place and not one where freshmen think they will never be accepted, or seniors for that matter.

I don’t know I just worry over all of you.  As a kid, I kept a list of things I would do as a teacher and things I would never do.  I used my experiences of good and bad to help me be the teacher I am now (however adequate I am).  I just want you to know, I am here for you all.  And I was there…right where you are.  I struggled through this same school, I laughed down these same halls, and I cried when I wasn’t cast in a part I had wanted.

My challenge now to everyone who reads this is to go out and meet someone they don’t know and not just talk to their friends; to do something, not because it will make them the center of something, but because they want to.  I challenge you to be the best person you can be… I promise you, it will all be worth it.

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