There’s this pile of books that lives on my nightstand. There’s four hardcovers on the bottom and seven paperbacks on top. Let’s look through them.
We start with a paperback book, the texture has always been my favorite. There are marbles on the cover. It’s signed by five people, and has my name scribbled in the top left of the inside cover. There’s a poem by Winifred C. Marshall and a picture of our school buses in the middle of the first page. Turn to page 38. Room 36, Grade 2. I’m the picture on the top right. Everything is black and white, but the stripes on my sweater show that I was wearing something colorful. My eyebrows show I’m happy… but I’m not necessarily smiling. My hair is thin and my bangs are parted to the left. I’m in the same row of pictures as my teacher. My teacher is an amazing woman, she taught me to love reading, and to love the English language. She is my favorite teacher. She taught me how to be an American. She taught me the Pledge of Allegiance. She taught me how to walk up to someone and be their friend. She taught me how to spell “friend”, because when you’re a friend, it’s until the end. She had help though, I had a tutor. I wish I remembered her name, I’d love to thank her. The tutor taught me how to read in English. She spent so much time with me, until I not only got it, but loved it. At the end of the year, she would give me a jump rope. I loved that jump rope until it broke 5 years later.
The next book has the same texture. It’s green with paint splatters, this time. If you open it, you’ll notice right away that this one is in color. Turn to page 37. Room 120, 3rd Grade. The fourth picture in the second row is me. I’m smiling and my eyes are sparkling. Red is really my color. This year, my teacher isn’t in the same row of pictures as me. She is wearing a reddish-orange color, though. Red is her color, too. She continued to grow my love for reading. I would sit on the ground in her classroom next to the most bullied kid and read Magic Treehouse books with him. She taught me how to make new friends, since none of my friends from the year before were in my class. She also taught me how to handle being picked on by stupid boys that kick you under the desk.
Book three is the last of the beloved texture. I think it was an Elementary school thing. I always had an appreciation for the first line of the poem in this one. “Children need to learn more than lessons in a book; they need to learn the deeper things that people overlook”. Fourth grade was just that. Honestly, I don’t remember too much about my teacher. She was known for how loud she sneezed, and many people were afraid of her. It was the first year we had lockers and two teachers. My second teacher was pretty cool, and I started loving science because of her. She had really poofy bleach blonde hair, and I loved it. But best of all, fourth grade was when I finally had a class with someone who eventually turned out to be my best friend from school. He still is to this day. I’ve even blogged about him; Ky. The one who drove his car into the lake. The one I saw at Tuba Christmas and went to eat with the day I was back in America. That year, in fourth grade, he’d come over to my house and we’d hang out. One time we made Christmas gifts for his little sister. It was sweet. Turn to page 26. There’s me, next to Ky in the second row. I’m smiling and wearing a pink shirt. He’s looking at the camera, and I’m just impressed there’s a picture of him.
The next book is brightly colored, there’s blue and pink and orange. I have always loved the color combinations. They make me happy. They’re cheerful colors. It’s the first Middle School book. If you open it, you see teachers signed the front cover, along with my best friend at the time. The rest of my friends signed the back cover. I was picky. This was the first year they sorted our pictures by grade and not teacher. I’m the first of two pictures with pink backgrounds on page 31. I thought I was so cool for that. It wasn’t the default gray background. The green just looked weird. And blue was also looked down upon for some reason. I’m wearing a black dress with a red trim, with a red choker necklace. my hair is half up, half down. I can tell it was probably the most effort I put into picture day to that point in time. I’m in a few other pictures- fifth grade chorus, fifth grade band, and Spelling Bee. I joined band and started playing trumpet in fifth grade. I was almost a trombone player, but I’m glad someone changed my mind. My teachers were known as “The O Team”, because both of their names started with the letter “O”. Fifth grade was also my first experience with a male teacher. At first I thought it was super weird, but he quickly turned into one of my favorite teachers, even allowing me to take home our tadpoles after the year ended. There were five of them, and they were named Chubbs, Bob, Splash, and two others that will be edited in to this post as soon as I found where I wrote it down… (I’m sorry tadpoles, I loved you and I failed you). Mr.O taught math and science, and he was a great teacher. I loved math because of him.
The next book has blue paint splatters and signatures of friends everywhere on the inside. There haven’t been poems since Elementary School, since the 8th Graders now did the yearbook. I don’t think the average 8th Grader liked poetry. If you page through the book starting at the back, you’ll see me a few times. Drama Club, Student Council, Spelling Bee, 6th Grade Band, and 6th Grade Chorus. Page forward to page 21, but try to ignore the backgrounds of the pages. They’re pretty bad. In Sixth Grade, I am the only one on my page with a pink background. I felt pretty good about that. I’m wearing a dress, but you couldn’t tell by the picture. My hair is down, and I’m wearing hoop earrings to school for the first time ever. A few of the girls had started wearing makeup, but not me. My teachers were both females, and their names both started with H. There was a clever cheer for our classes they came up with that I wish I could remember. I loved both Mrs.H-s. Literacy and Social Studies were great, doing projects like “Flat Stanley” where I sent a flat paper cutout of myself to the Netherlands for my grandparents to document and making miniature cities for Social Studies. Math and Science were fun too, and my favorite project was dressing up as our favorite scientist and acting as them for a day. We would also give a report. I was Christa McAullife, to express my love for space and the Challenger. Another fond memory is the time our classroom flooded and all our posters got wet. Everyone was overjoyed, because nothing “exciting” ever happened.
My Seventh Grade Yearbook is my favorite Middle School design. It’s white with the year on it in graffiti style. The first thing I notice when I open it is my science teacher’s signature. He did more than sign the book, he wrote a paragraph for me too. He opened with “Mon Ami” instead of my name, like he normally would. We’d have conversations in French. He’s also one of my favorite teachers, right up there with my Second Grade teacher. He gave me my love for weather. He allowed me to take apart an old cell phone for a project. He encouraged me to learn more, to keep doing what interested me. Also in Seventh Grade, I learned about my interest in Greek and Roman Mythology and other mythos from my Literacy teacher. I did a presentation on Dionysus, and he’s been my favorite mythological person since. Everyone else picked Aphrodite or Zeus, nah, not me. I dressed up as Dionysus, wearing a sheet, carrying grapes, acting, the whole nine yards. For picture day I wore my favorite outfit at the time, a black tank top with peace signs and paint splatters, covered by a long sleeved blue blouse type thing. My hair was just above my shoulders, the first time in my life I’d ever cut it short. I had a gray background this year, along with almost everyone else on page 14.
The last paperback yearbook in my collection is Eight Grade. It’s solid blue, with a picture of the school on the front cover. They tore it down after that year. The school that is, not the cover design. I’m right there in page 6, the first one in the second row. I have a blue background this year, but my shirt is pink. My necklace is a treble clef and I’m wearing a black headband. I consider this to be one of my most awkward school pictures. Flipping through pages of the yearbook, I’m in a few. There’s a picture on page 3 that was taken in my Literacy and Social Studies class, that happened to be a joined class. It was a very fun class, and I loved the teacher’s teaching style. It was my first real experience with a more “relaxed” classroom. It was also super fun to make forts out of the manila folders we used to separate ourselves while taking a test. I was in 8th Grade Band, Drama Club, Student Council, Science Fair, Track, and I played Taps for Veterans Day. Then you come to the cover, all the signatures. A bunch of friends saying they’d call me over the summer, the class “fuckboy” saying he’s loved me all this time, and two teachers. One, my math teacher and track coach. The other, my science teacher and student council director. Let’s call her “Mrs.A”. Mrs.A was one of the few people to sign on the inside of the front cover. In fact, it was only her, my health teacher, and two close friends. Mrs.A is another one that’s up there for favorite teacher. I was absolutely what you’d describe as her teacher’s pet. She continued to fuel my love for science, letting me study weather and space whenever I wanted and she could somehow implement it into her lesson plan. She described me as “highly motivated, enthusiastic, and very dependable” in my yearbook. “Stay happy and best wishes to you always. Mrs.A”. She was a fantastic teacher. She retired the next year, along with our Principal who would grill hot dogs for the entire school right outside the cafeteria.
High school yearbooks are a little different. They’re hard cover, and they cost around $70. The designs are also much better, and you can actually read everything on every page. Consider this a little shout-out, High School yearbook staff. Although you never really knew I existed, you guys were pretty cool.
Freshman year, I was the last picture on page 43. I wore a teal colored shirt and a matching choker. I scrunched my hair (I can still smell the mousse) and wore a pink checkered bow in it. It’s a pretty good picture. Freshman year I went through a lot outside of school, which I’m sure I’ll eventually dedicate a post to. Everything at school helped me a lot, though. From my teachers to my extra-curriculars. I lettered in track running the mile and two mile, learned that I love marching band, did really well playing a trumpet solo, acted as a man in drama club, and was an active part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Ecology Club, and Future Teachers of America. My teachers were nice, I had many different teachers since High School teachers specialize in the subject they teach. A notable one though, was Engineering. I was introduced to Project Lead the Way at the end of 8th Grade, and knew I *had* to take that course. Our teacher had a very unique teaching style. He was very relaxed. In all honesty, we didn’t actually follow the curriculum at all. We made mini weapons of mass destruction. We ate bacon bits. We designed things in CAD/Inventor. He was more of our friend than our teacher. He only ate blue M&Ms. My science teacher stands out, too. Not many people liked him because he was old fashioned, but he taught me how to handle failure. He high-fived me when I got an “F” on one of his tests. Many people hated him for that, but few looked at what the deeper meaning was. He wanted to encourage us to keep learning about that topic, to learn to like it- or at least understand it. He wanted to inspire you to have a happiness about learning whether you got an F or an A. He sure did that. I also want to say thank you to my Algebra teacher, she would talk to me about everything. She listened to me. I’d often miss my bus just because I was talking to her after class. I just wish I remembered the name of the student teacher from health class. She played Fireflight for us, and she was a cool person.
Sophomore year, I was the last girl pictured on page 42. I was wearing a long sleeved purple shirt and my treble clef necklace. My hair was a little below my shoulders, showing how slowly my hair would grow. The thing I notice about this picture though, is that I look confident. I’m smiling brightly and my body looks relaxed. I made it into Wind Ensemble, played another good trumpet solo, lettered in track again, and stayed active in all of the clubs I mentioned before. Sophomore year was a great year, and I think I have my teachers to thank for that, particularly Biology, English, US History, and Engineering. My biology class was very small, it was an honors class of about ten people including myself. In this class, I started feeling confident. I started going by the shortened version of my name. The projects we did were so much fun. The teacher really knew how to reach out to her students and show them how to love what they did. She is now the assistant principal of the Middle School, and she’s doing a great job. My English teacher was really the first teacher that sparked that love for reading in class again, the first since third grade. I felt comfortable in her room. The windows and the temperature and the lighting were just right. I was relaxed in her room. Then, US History. Did I hate the map quizzes and Document Based Questions? Absolutely. I was never too big on that class. Maybe Hamilton should’ve came out sooner. So what’s my point? Just like my biology teacher, he knew how to make you love what you were doing even though you deep down couldn’t find any motivation even if you tried your hardest. Lastly, there was Engineering. We had a different teacher this year. She was, in my eyes, amazing. The rest of the class hated her because she actually taught from the curriculum. Yeah, there were wayyyy too many PowerPoints, but that doesn’t make me hate a teacher. That makes me want to change the way PLTW teaches. The teacher was fantastic. She’d listen to me and encourage me and be my mentor when I needed one. She pushed me to be the best me I could be. I don’t think I can ever thank her enough.
Junior year. I’m the first person in the last row on page 33, the one wearing a white v-neck and a flannel. My hair still barely grew. That’s about the only picture I’m in from that year. I’m in a robotics team picture, since that’s the year we started robotics and I provided all of the pictures. I’m not in any other robotics pictures because I took them all. I’m not in any other pictures otherwise because I spent Junior year at the county career and technical center. I studied Engineering for 2 and a half hours a day. The rest of the day were my academics, which consisted of Algebra 2, Chemistry, and College in High School English. My English teacher was incredible, she inspired me to start writing again. This was written in her class, as well as this and this. One of my fondest High School memories is getting to throw a paper plate of whipped cream in her face. It was pretty great. Another fond memory is when the librarian allowed me to sit in the tent that was really only there for display. You made my day. My Chem teacher deserves a shout-out, too. He always knew how to make anyone love science, and he’d make Chem puns with me all day. The two girls I’d always talk to in that class, Cheyenne and Maggie, they were pretty cool. Cheyenne is now a dog groomer and Maggie is a U.S. Marine. I met some pretty cool people there.
Senior year. I went back to my High School. I’m all over this yearbook; I’m even quoted on the cover. My senior picture is on page 43, I’m the third picture on the page. I look so happy, and so mature compared to all the other pictures of me. I’m wearing Air Force logo earrings. My hair got so much longer. I’m wearing makeup. Under my name, my clubs and activities are listed. “Robotics Captain, Debate, Wind/Jazz/Honors Band, FCA”. That sums up my senior year pretty well. If you want to see baby me, I’m the second to last baby picture on page 50. We skipped a picture, though. I’m quoted, with a picture, on page 45. I was asked what I’d miss most and least about High School. My answer? “I’ll miss the comfort of knowing what’s going to happen the most. I’ll miss waking up early the least”. That’s such a typical “me” answer. I’m wearing a hoodie and my arms are crossed very sassily in the picture. Keep in mind, hoodies are out of dress code.
I’m pictured a few more times. Coding club, honors band, speech and debate, FCA, English festival, bridge building (I’m featured twice here!), robotics, band (I’m somewhere in the Script Ohio), track, my homecoming date (from another school) made it onto page 133 in one picture and we’re both in another, I’m next to a giant inflatable t-rex on page 146, if you look for the poofiest dress on page 152 you’ll see the worst picture of me in my prom dress in existence. I’m pictured again on page 159 among other people in college shirts, in my
CU Boulder hoodie (my dream college that’s still one of my choices since I deferred my admission). My graduation picture is on page 164 and it was taken from the worst angle ever. Nobody liked theirs. My personal favorite though, is the giant spread and quote of mine on pages 120-121.
“As a student, being part of the activities it what really makes memories. Playing in the band, cheering at pep rallies, attending plays, performing concerts, taking field trips, and helping with the STEM festival make us who we are in high school. Singing the Alma Mater ties it all together for me- it’s what keeps us together. Everyone’s your friend when you’re singing it on the bus or arm in arm. Those are some of the best memories.”
It may not be the most flattering picture of anyone, but it’s me and three friends arm in arm, shouting the Alma Mater at the top of our lungs. It’s true, those are the best memories.
I’ve mentioned teachers every year, I can’t forget about senior year! I started off my morning with Physics, which was a fantastic class. We’d have donut parties and we’d bring in coffee. But shhh, no one tell school administration. None of that happened. Mod 1 promises. Second I’d chill in lab 119 for 54 minutes. This was the lab dedicated to Engineering. I’d chill with a third (and also VERY amazing and inspirational) Engineering teacher, and work on my capstone project to still graduate from the tech center. Third, for the first semester I had Holocaust Studies. The class was as sad as it sounds. Second semester I had modern conflicts, and it was an amazing class with an amazing teacher. I learned so much (including that the girl two seats to the left of me was always trying to flirt with the teacher). Periods 4/5 were split and I had Wind Ensemble during that time. Senior year, music was my passion. It still is, but I lived and breathed it then. My band director was my best friend. I spent more hours with him and Ky in the band room than I did anywhere in the school. Mr.Band Director helped me out so much. Deep discussions about life with my feet on his desk were my favorite. Sixth period I had lunch, but I’d often skip and stay in the band room. A few times I’d get food and eat in a practice room or the office, but that didn’t happen often. I do miss the school’s home-made pizza, though. That was good. On the last day I totally bought 4 pieces and brought them home. 7/8 was also split, and I had Calculus with the craziest teacher at my school. I mean this as a compliment. She is incredibly eccentric, and it’s what makes her unique. Everybody, including myself, loved her. She made me a balloon animal dragon at the end of the year. It actually spit fire! The bell rang at 12:34 for this class to end, and I’d always loved that the numbers lined up.
Ninth period I had Honors English, with the same teacher as sophomore year. Needless to say, that class was fantastic. We read a couple of amazing books, including “Alive“, the book about the Andes survivors. Lastly, I finished my day among juniors. I took AP US Gov so I could have all 4 Social Studies credits since the credit system worked differently at the tech center. That class was killer, but the teacher was pretty cool. He always worked with me to be able to submit my work if it was ever late and I totally owe him my grade. Again though, I just wish Hamilton would have been out sooner. I might have actually grasped the miserable two month study we did on Federalist #10.
There’s a few other teachers I quickly want to mention and thank. In Second Grade, Miss C was always there to tell me jokes and to make me smile. She gave me a toy frog at some point in the school year and I loved it. I remember the smell of her classroom like it was yesterday. They tore that building down… many years ago. The second teacher I’ll mention… Mr.S, the woodshop teacher. Thank you for letting me chill in your classroom like it was my own. Thanks for being the totally cool person you are. Oh, and your kids are adorable. The music teacher in Elementary School, thank you for letting me copy “Rockin’ Robin” from the book because I loved it so much. I still have the copy, even though it’s black and white and it’s been hole punched a few too many times. The librarian, also Elementary School. Your love for frogs always stuck with me. You were kind when I needed kindness. The library was a great place to go when you needed some freedom. The technology department, for dealing with me when I’d come to your office with some request from a teacher or when I needed advice. The Middle School Home-Ec teacher, for always giving me an extra pretzel, even if I didn’t win bingo. Also for not laughing (or being mad) that time I spilled water all over myself and my kitchen trying to do dishes. The High School Foods teacher, because you always smiled at me in the hallway. You were the light I sometimes needed to get through the day.
Thank you to my robotics coaches (and mentors) because you guys took so much time and money out of your personal lives for the team, and a lot of the time we didn’t express just how much it meant to us. The band directors I had the pleasure of working with, whether it be local or honors band or something else. Thank you for inspiring young musicians like myself to become the best musician we can be… And that sometimes John Mackey is right. Thank you to Mr.D, the Middle School band student teacher that introduced me to Jazz. You ave me the confidence I didn’t know I needed. I was able to get up on stage and play in front of a crowd, comfortably. And lastly… We’ll call her Miss D. Thanks for being a fantastic student teacher in band (even though wayyyy too many people didn’t like you for who knows what reason) and now a fantastic friend as well. It totally makes me smile when you like my tweets.
There you have it. I summarized 11 years of American public schooling in 4,000 words. I can use less though: “amazing”. All of these teachers contributed to who I am, whether it’s to not kick stupid boys back or to love writing.
To everyone that’s taught me over the years: thank you. All of you are amazing people. Keep fighting, keep teaching, keep changing lives.
I, on the other hand, should probably do something with my life. I’ve had Chicken on a Raft going the whole time I’ve been working on this post.
Aaayo, Chicken on a Raft.