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Rhymes & Reasons

Category: Education / Topics: Education Memories Tribute, Testimony

Lessons I Learned in High School

by Greg Asimakoupoulos

Posted: August 8, 2010

Reunion reflections and somber afterthoughts…

Whoever said 'you can never go home again'
must not have known the power of the human mind.
I find that memories indelibly traced there
transport me instantly to where it all began.
To those sacred places where, with youthful passion,
I learned to embrace life.
I know you can go home,
for I've returned often.
Like a panther pursuing his prey.
To a high school campus
where those who prepared me for my journey
gave me a compass for my trek,
camouflaged as lectures, labs, term papers,
projects, grades and tests.
To classrooms and hallways
where I learned the ways of the world,
and where I was praised for what I could do.
(And where, with humility,
I learned to accept the things I couldn't).
To ballgames and dances and concerts and plays
where textbooks gave way
to what's learned other ways.
Where losing hurt more
than winning felt good
and friends rallied 'round you
as only friends could.
Should it surprise you,
my panther-like prowl of the past?
I think not!
These trips that I take
to the days of my youth
remind me of what really lasts.

* While attending my 40 year high school reunion last weekend, I visited with Bob Watson, a classmate I hadn't seen since our 30 year reunion. Bobby was quick to thank me for a poem I had read at that event and distributed to those in attendance. It was called "Lessons I Learned in High School." "I keep it in my desk drawer at work," he said. "It speaks to me every time I read it."

Because I was privileged to serve as the emcee of this year's reunion, it was my solemn job to read a list of twenty-eight names signifying those from our class who have died.

Amid the gasps of surprise, I invited the group to observe an extended period of silence as a way of remembering our friends and honoring their lives. At the conclusion of the silence, I encouraged the group to make the most of the remainder of the evening and visit with as many former classmates as possible. After all, I said somberly, we don't know who of us will be added to "the list" when it is read at our next reunion.

I had no idea how timely my advice would be. Thirty hours later, Bob Watson would die in his sleep. When I heard the sad news, I remembered handing Bobby the microphone the night before and hearing him say how great it was to be together and how much he loved everyone.

I dedicate this poem "Lessons I Learned in High School" (previously unpublished) to Bob Watson and his widow Dottie. Oh, by the way. The mascot for Wenatchee High School is the Panther!

Greg Asimakoupoulos (pronounced AWESOME-uh-COPE-uh-less) is an ordained minister, published author and a freelance news reporter with the Salem Radio Network.   Greg maintains a weekly column called Rhymes and Reasons on The Partial Observer,  which he graciously provides to SeniorLifestyle.

Greg's writings have now been assembled in book form. Find out more.

E-mail the author (moc.loa@veRemosewA*)

* For web-based email, you may need to copy and paste the address yourself.

Posted: August 8, 2010

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