Still the Rays of Youth and Love

Today also marks the anniversary of the death of my HHS classmate Beth Ladner, who died exactly one year before graduation. I’m not posting about that this year, but have in years past.

I grew up in the shadow of Huntsville High School. I have memories of driving past the school as a child and being fascinated by the senior wall, which stood atop the school and each year was painted with a design by that year’s senior class.

When I started sixth grade, at a Catholic school in Florida, some students were discussing where they wanted to go to high school, generally a debate between the supposed merits of the local Catholic high school and the public high school they were zoned for. When they asked me, though, I knew my answer — I wanted to go to Huntsville High School.

And I did. We moved back later that year, and I went on to attend Huntsville High. My class was the last to decorate the senior wall.

And, twenty years ago today, I became a Huntsville High School graduate.

It’s amazing to think about, that it’s been so long. The class is preparing for our twentieth reunion this summer; the first time we’ll assemble that we will have lived more of our lives after parting ways than before. I don’t know that I’ll be able to make it, but I do hope to catch up with some classmates while they’re in town.

The passage of time is driven home more by the fact that, since the last reunion, our Huntsville High has ceased to exist; the building we attended was torn down in 2004. I’ve substituted at the new building a couple of times this year, and while it is definitely still a Huntsville High, it’s not the same Huntsville High.

I’ve also subbed at almost all of the other Huntsville high schools this year, and it’s driven home what I already knew — I’m proud to be a Huntsville High School alumnus, and blessed that’s where I attended.

The anniversary has been looming for a while, as a reminder of aging, as a challenge to take stock of my life. Despite all that’s happened in the last 20 years, I’m definitely not where I would have wanted to be for this milestone, and I’m working hard to take that as a challenge rather than a discouragement. This too shall pass.

My brothers both were home-schooled during high school. It was an incredible and very positive opportunity for them, and I’ve had the discussion over the years over whether I would have wanted to have done anything differently.

But my life was shaped by the fact that I was in that place at that time. Newspapers were such a logical fit for me, and yet I really don’t know that I would have ended up there if I had not gone to Huntsville High School. My time there had an incredibly foundational impact on me, and always will have.

My Huntsville High School may have been torn down, but it still lives on in me.