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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Valley High School Reunions

Over the last couple weekends, I have had the privilege of attending a ten year and a fifteen year reunion of classes I taught at Valley High School in Lucasville, Ohio. When I say privilege, I mean just that. I felt very fortunate to have been invited to the events. My favorite part of teaching was instructing all the seniors who attended my school, so I was witness to their final year before graduation, both an end to old dependencies and a beginning to their new, independent lives. Each senior year, the students and I worked our way through classes to prepare them for college and employment. The twenty-seven years of teaching seniors were campaigns of bitter/sweet memories of tough assignments, pleasant interactions, and just normal maturation activities. As each year drew to a close, I felt a great kinship with these students, mainly because of our hard work together, but also because I, too, am a Valley High graduate in the Class of 1969. Every year was unique and every year completed verified more lifelong friendships with an expanding body of individuals baptized in the purple and gold. This summer I was struck with the number of wonderful, caring adults who graduated in these classes. As I talked to many ex-students about their present status and reminisced about our time spent together in high school, I marveled at the tremendous diversity of individuals and their outstanding accomplishments since graduation. I must say I was not only very impressed but also very content in the reality that so many people have already done so much to better themselves and their society. I tried to listen carefully and take in all of the information I could about both classes. I felt so much respect and gratitude in seeing them interact as adults. I got that "old time feeling" of living my life through them. As they renewed old acquaintances, I felt lucky to have been a tiny part of their past and extremely fortunate to be a friend today. And, as these individuals spoke to me, I felt a great confidence in their love for our country and for the respect they held for opportunities they had seized to insure that our values and families will continue to grow ever stronger. The classmates are living testimonies for the positive forces that refuse to let hard times and forecasts of doom ruin their futures. In them, I see success and good fortune. Spending a few hours with the classes was personally uplifting. I wanted to let each of them know how proud I was of their good common instincts and sacrifices. To a teacher, nothing compares. Seeing the positive growth of so many human beings was simply awesome. At times, I found myself speechless as they recounted abilities they had found in high school. Now, I am left with new memories of joy. I have seen the new faces of seniors of long ago, and I have been inspired by new dreams in their lives. How did I become so fortunate? The generosity of my ex-students has allowed me to experience something truly special-- ties that are lasting and meaningful. I want just to thank them for allowing me to remain a teacher in spirit. Nothing in my teaching career is more meaningful than a graduate's compliment. I love them all and I will continue to help them in any way I can. Many of my teachers did the same for me, and I will always treasure them. We are all still working toward a final Graduation. "Through Your Hands" By John Hiatt (Album- "Chronicles" 2005, Universal Music Careers)
You were dreaming on a park bench
'Bout a broad highway somewhere
When the music from the carillon
Seemed to hurl your heart out there
Past the scientific darkness
Past the fireflies that float
To an angel bending down
To wrap you in her warmest coat

And you ask, "What am I not doing?"
She says "Your voice cannot command.
In time, you will move mountains,
And it will come through your hands."

Still you argue for an option
Still you angle for your case
Like you wouldn't know a burning bush
If it blew up in your face
Yeah, we scheme about the future
And we dream about the past
When just a simple reaching out
Might build a bridge that lasts

And you ask, "What am I not doing?"
She says "Your voice cannot command.
In time, you will move mountains,
And it will come through your hands."

So whatever your hands find to do
You must do with all your heart
There are thoughts enough
To blow men's minds and tear great worlds apart

There's a healing touch to find you
On that broad highway somewhere
To lift you high
As music flying
Through the angel's hair.

Don't ask what you are not doing
Because your voice cannot command
In time we will move mountains
And it will come through your hands
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