High School

August 20, 2020

It hit me during one of my morning walks at a nearby high school. There was a group of senior citizens walking around the

track. A couple of teenage girls showed up and began practicing lacrosse. And in the parking lot, a parent and teenage son were practicing driving, as the parent dad carefully arranged the orange construction cones so his son could get the hang of driving. On the other end, a father and his little boy, both on bikes, raced furiously around and around until I looked up and saw the dad take a nasty spill. Thank the Lord he was wearing a helmet.

I offer this scenario as a setup to a question society has been posing for eons: Will we ever get over high school? Even if we’ve graduated during the Cold War, it still acts as a magnet for the surrounding community. It's a natural gathering spot. I know a man who finished in 1959. Every month, like clockwork, he drives all the way from Northern Virginia and meets a tight circle of classmates at a Greek diner west of Baltimore.  Now that says something.

Reaching back into antiquity, I read where Spartan boys, at the tender age of 6, landed in military school, where they learned how to read and write. They lived in barracks with the older men. All with one goal: to become potent warriors. Meanwhile, the girls were home-schooled by their mothers.

The first high school was opened in Scotland in the 1500s. The first high school in what was not yet America opened in Boston in 1635. I don’t know if the cafeteria food was inedible.

I didn’t become a high-school teacher until I was 50. With a background in journalism, it was only natural that the first assignment I got was teaching chemistry(!)

It took all of five minutes before I was busted.

“You really don’t want to be here, do you?” pressed the kid in the wheelchair.

“No,” I replied weakly, startled that he exposed me as counterfeit material so quickly. “But they ran out of English textbooks.”


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