It’s the last two weeks of the SFUSD semester, another batch of semi-embittered Leadership High School seniors are getting ready to graduate. I’m substitute-teaching there tomorrow for the art teacher whose job used to be mine. She’s a great teacher, and it’s fun knowing that she’s there, doing her thing so well. It’s fun for me to go in there every once in a while (I’ve subbed for a variety of classes), and see all of the great projects her students are doing. Art in schools is essential. Duh.
It will be interesting tomorrow to see what the energy’s like among students, so close to the finish-line. Less than two weeks left. I used to keep a big calendar at the front of my classroom around this time so that students could mark each day of the final count-down off, with a mixture of anxiety and relief. On the last minute of the last day of class, we’d have a sixty-second countdown out-loud, as a class. It got nutty. Lots of hollering, some tears, even.
I worked at Leadership from 1999 to 2002, then again from 2003-2004, and substitute-taught there in-between, and ever since. It’s such a funny, quirky school, and despite all of the stress and drama and mayhem of the place, it’s all heart, and I can never quite close the door on my relationship to the place.
One of my former students (who was a freshman when I last officially taught there) is now a graduating senior, and since we’ve stayed close, it brings back all of these memories of all of the amazing seniors I worked with there. (Which, come to think of it, wasn’t that many, actually. Not because of attrition, I mean, though there was that, too: because it was just a small school, where personalities had space to get bigger. )
I had the funniest deja-vu before my own graduation last week, where hearing “Pomp and Circumstance” triggered nothing for me in terms of my own ceremony, but absolutely plugged me right back into the graduations of LHS classes 2001-2004 (minus the singing lady shaman in the unitard with the bald eagle statue, hand-puppet, and the bone strapped to her head, I mean. Among other things. There was also a juggler and some sort of vinyl get-up, once, too. You had to be there. I’m not making this up.)
Graduation’s a funny time, singing shamans or no. Graduation makes me get all sentimental in all of the ways that weddings and holidays don’t. It’s such a neat ritual: sort of boring at times, but so much about marking personal achievement, simple survival, and a collective experience, in a manner that I personally really love.
Anyway, while there’s a number of former LHS-ers, both students and faculty, with whom I’ve stayed in touch, there were a number who sort of drifted away to sea. Sometimes I run into them unexpectedly (anywhere within 500 meters of the Metreon increases the likelihood of this tenfold), but today, I got a really great email from one of my former advisees, who found out about wofflehouse. Last week, I talked on the phone forever with another former student who’s getting ready to move on to grad school, herself. Another one’s happy, married, finishing school, pregnant with her first child. Later this summer, I’m going to the wedding of one former student, and then meeting up with a couple more in Manila. It makes me so, so happy to get these messages, to see how their lives are evolving and changing, and how these relationships keep going. Kinda makes me feel old, but that’s OK. I’m not.
If you’re another LHS escapee, consider this a big fat hint to send me an email, telling me how you are.