Friday, September 25, 2015
Homecoming 2015 is in the books! It may have been the best one I have been involved with as a teacher. The crowning moment was the football halftime announcement of Catherine Smith, who I have known since she was a little girl, as our Homecoming Queen! (The king crowned is the equally impressive Bryan Akunna! I speak to my students each year about opportunity. One point I will make is that I blew a chance to be a decent math student in high school because of my infatuation with a certain young lady. Stay with me- in this case, homecoming and math are related. The following is from October 30, 2005.
Friday night was Homecoming at Westbury Christian School. Homecoming was spread out this year due to Hurricane Rita causing the cancellation of four days of school during our week of celebration, forcing our administration to come up with a new schedule. We finished the activities this past week with 'Retro Day' and 'Spirit Day.' The school uniform policy is scrapped and 9th-10th-11th-12th grades compete for points and top ranking among the classes based on participation and originality. A Saturday evening banquet completed the festivities and tied the week together. Football is an integral part of the tradition, especially in the South, and our school is no different. We won the game and our young men are headed to the playoffs for the first time in WCS history. No Homecoming football game would be complete without the obligatory crowning of the Queen. The candidates, all good kids, were lovely and their escorts, some in football uniforms, were very presentable as well. The crown rested on the head of Amber Glenn. I would have been happy no matter who was selected but I've known Amber longer than the others so it was special for me. Amber has been at WCS for thirteen years. She has gone with me on mission trips to Honduras and she's partially responsible for my teaching here. When I came to interview in Houston in 1998, she accompanied her dad, Greg, who doubles as WCS Athletic Director, as they picked me up from my flight. I was leery about moving to Texas but one scene as we moved to their car made a difference. I saw a father and his fourth grade daughter stroll hand in hand together through Hobby Airport, the essence of a happy family and it left me with a glow about the whole situation. I don't ignore glows and it got my visit off to a good start so eight years later, here I am, partly thanks to our new Queen, the lovely Amber Glenn.
Homecoming was big in my hometown as well. There were differences. It was a public school and York, Nebraska had a population of 6,000 or 3,994,000 fewer than Houston. In my junior year, our Homecoming Queen was Teri Newcomer. She was a cheerleader and she was pretty. More than that, she had class and dignity. Teri also took math the same period as me. This was during the time of 'work at your own rate' education and a number of my subjects followed that format. We had no homework. We came in, got packets of assignments, and progressed at our own speed. That is terrific if you are motivated which I was not. I was motivated to pay attention to Teri. I was in love with her in a very awkward, sixteen-year old boy who hasn't started dating yet kind of way. (I had made the varsity basketball team for the first time and as fate would have it, she reportedly had a crush on one of the players. Unfortunately, it was one of my teammates.) As a result of my focus on Teri for those two semesters, I learned next to nothing in math. It was a Pass-Fail grade so passing was good enough for me. That was my total benefit from the class- a P on my report card. Now, years later, I am clueless when it comes to anything in the realm of numbers. I don't have to use a calculator to count to ten but that's not too much of a stretch.
Let me ask you a question. Whose fault is it that my math skills are deficient? I could blame the style of learning set up in our school system but it worked great in my US History class. I could blame the instructor for not forcing me to do the material but he was terrific with the kids who wanted to learn. Maybe it was Teri's fault for being attractive. We know those are just immature excuses. The blame rests with me. I chose to be distracted and not to study. I chose a course of action that would hurt me in the long run. I've been pretty good at blaming others in my life. Some of the kids I work with have the same struggle. No matter what happens, they're not the ones in the wrong. They are learning it from society. "It's the school's fault, it's the government's fault, it's my parents' fault, it's the coach's fault, it's the umpire/referee's fault", etc, etc. If I fail, there has to be a reason outside myself. We handle sin the same way. We had a pretty good example from Adam and Eve. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve and in a secondary sense, God, for succumbing to the temptation of the forbidden fruit. We haven't progressed too far. David, however, when confronted with his adulterous and murderous affair with Bathsheba simply said, "I have sinned." He had to deal with the fallout which lasted for decades but he got past it and was forgiven. I'm still working on myself. It isn't math class anymore but I can come up with plenty of excuses why I constantly fall flat on my face. My knowledge of Alcoholics Anonymous is scant but I know the first step is admitting you are an alcoholic. I see the reason for my problems every time I look in the mirror. To poorly paraphrase Oliver Hazard Perry, "I have met the enemy and he suspiciously looks just like I do." Praise the Lord that I was blessed with earthly parents AND a Heavenly Father who love me anyway. My folks cut me off quickly when I tried to pass the buck. (They also had no idea about my math class experience- my life span would have been shortened to the equivalent of my attention span.) Who knows, in a couple of years, I may graduate into the class of those who hold themselves accountable for every thought, action, and word that comes from their mouths.
I have to add this post script. My senior year, Teri came back to crown the new Homecoming Queen and she needed an escort. Guess who the lucky guy was? One of the highlights of my life was having Teri on my arm, walking out on a football field on a cool Nebraska Friday evening as she relinquished her title, placing the crown on the head of the next lucky girl to become part of York High School history. Life was sweet at seventeen! And now as a final tribute to Amber, Teri, and all the others who have been a symbol, if only for one glorious night, of high school royalty, I leave you with these immortal words, sung by the cultural prophets of pop music in the Sixties, Peter-Michael-Davy-Micky or collectively as they were known, the Monkees:
"Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh what can it mean
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen."
I could not have said it any better myself.
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Posted by Steve Hawley at 9:42 PM