The senior year of high school is, in many ways, a transition between childhood and adulthood. When you graduate, you enter that world of not quite grown up, but no longer a kid. It was a transition I was not excited to make.
The summer before my senior year I embraced a new form of communication – e-mail! I think I was the first person in my class to use email, but we had a classmate whose parents were missionaries in Italy. She was coming back to our area for her senior year to live in the states and graduate from an American school. After writing paper letters forever back and forth, letters which took weeks to cross the ocean and end up in her hands, my dad introduced me to a way I could communicate via the computer instantly. Amazing! I still printed out each of her emails and kept them in a notebook because they were precious to me. Felicia K and I didn’t end up being incredibly close when she came back to the states, although we were friends, but having a pen pal was a lot of fun.
Me and Jenny were still very close. Here we are at our senior banquet.
I was also one of the first people in my class to carry a mobile phone. It was a large boxy thing that I had to use only in emergencies. My dad did not want me in a wreck with no way to call home. I was NOT allowed to use the phone except for emergencies, because each call had a very high charge, something like five cents a minute, if I recall correctly.
In spite of my nerves, my senior year was a blast. My study buddy, Becky B, and I loved advanced math (pre-calculus) and physics class. We made a lot of memories in those smaller than average elective classes.
My study buddy Becky B and me at our formal banquet
It was a year of travel. Our Physics class traveled to Chicago, where we made fun of the “Watch out for Falling Ice” signs everywhere, until I got clonked on the back of the head with an icicle falling from a high rise – ouch! Our class went to Senior Leadership camp at the Wilds Camp in North Carolina, Washington DC for our senior trip, and the Wilds of the Rockies for a senior retreat. And, at the end of the summer, I made the trek to Watertown, WI with Janna following behind our packed-to-the-brim vehicle, wondering what the next five years would bring. Would I meet my future spouse? Would have I have any friends, because I really didn’t know Janna well? Would school continue to be easy?
Our school play was the story of Joseph from the Bible. ONce again I failed to get a speaking part. I hated that outfit -thought it made me look soooooo fat.
One memory stands out from my Senior year, outside of the formal banquet, cars painted with the words "Class of 1998," friendships, and family. Our class was the “Bad” class. We had earned a poor reputation, and we often felt (probably not fairly) that the staff and faculty at our Christian school had given up on us. On the first day of school, or sometime in the first week, Mr. Sturgill, our new administrator, came to our class. He was (and still is) a spitfire of a man, and we were all a little frightened of him.
“I’ve heard stories about you guys.” He said.
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I thought, “Here we go again!”
“And you know what, I’m not listening to one of them. Any time someone comes to me to talk about your class, I make them stop. No matter what happened in the past, you have the chance to prove to me who you are. You have the chance to make a difference as the leadership of this school. Let’s make this your best year ever.”
That little speech changed something in me and I think my classmates as well. We suddenly felt we had a chance, and we lived up to it in many ways. I am thankful to this day for a man of character who gave us a chance. Later Mr. Sturgill came to be on the leadership team at my college, and he continues to impact my life today. He and his wife have made a difference in my life, and I am forever grateful to them.
Becky B and I worked very hard in our classes, and we knew we were both in the running to be valedictorian. When it got close to graduation time, we checked with the office to see who was in the lead. They started figuring our GPAs to the fourth, fifth, sixth decimal point. I don’t remember who was ahead, it was probably Becky, but we agreed that it was absolutely silly to figure GPAs that far. We went to the administration and asked them if they would agree not to keep figuring the GPAs past two decimal points and allow us to graduate co-valedictorians. What an honor to be able to represent our class in that way. Sadly, I left my printed copy of my speech on the podium, so today I have no record of what I said. My parents have video, I think.
It’s funny. Graduating valedictorian, and later at the top of my college class, seemed so important at the time. I pushed myself very hard to get good grades, although it was easier for me than others admittedly. Today, however, those honors mean little. Few of my friends know I had the highest GPA in college and high school. Those medals sit in a box somewhere gathering dust. They don’t even mean anything on job applications and my current resume as a writer. What did end up impacting my life forever was the spiritual decisions I made that year, deciding to follow Christ and not the crowd, as well as the decision about the college I attended, which was not my first choice but the best for many reasons, including a rather large scholarship.
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