Last night it was our parental duty to attend Curriculum Night at the sixteen-year-old’s high school. One of us was happy to go in order to learn about the topics our son would be taught this year but otherwise was not thrilled about being in the high school environment. One of us was happy to go and was positively thrilled to the bone about walking around the massive building as if it were the ’80s again.

Any guesses?

I adored high school. I light up when talking about it. I would go back and do it all over again if I could.

If you were to ask me what was so great about high school (as you, no doubt, roll your eyes and wonder if I’m for real), I’m not sure that I could give you one answer, other than a broad statement about how it was just an incredibly happy time for me. Perhaps the memory that you would find most pertinent since you read my blog is that I stalked and met my husband at high school. But that’s a story for another day. Other than meeting the love of my life, I experienced great times and met some great friends there. I was on the yearbook staff; in fact, my signature was in many places on this table in the yearbook room (chances are that table is either long-gone or painted over!):

We put our yearbook together using actual PAPER, PENCILS, STRAIGHT-EDGES, and that sort of thing. The photos were taken with cameras containing ACTUAL FILM. Nowadays? It’s all digital, baby.

I was not an athlete, a criminal, a basketcase, a brain, or even a Princess, yet I feel like I had a very well-rounded experience that encompassed friendships with people from all of those categories.

(In fact, I have recently reconnected with many of my high school friends via that blasted Facebook…which has actually been really fun!)

Great memories. So going to our son’s high school actually speeds my heart rate. Sitting in the classroom listening to teachers makes me smile and *want* to ask them questions. At last year’s Curriculum Night I had to restrain myself from approaching the German teacher after her summary and talking to her about my own high school German experience, especially after I found out that she is really German. The boy–who took his German name “Dieter” because of Mike Myers and Sprockets–would have killed me. (Though, admittedly, I *did* go home that night and tell him that I asked his German teacher if I could observe for a few weeks and that she told me she’d be happy to have me. I let him lose all color in his face before telling him it was a joke.)

Last night it became really clear to me that:

1. The High School Experience has grown by leaps and bounds in so many ways over the last 20-something years, especially–as you would probably guess–in the area of technology


2. I still would love to go back!

Some Curriculum Night observations, according to my son’s schedule and ten-minute parent sessions:

Period 1 (British Literature): Parking was a hassle and Jim had to drop me off for 1st period so he could park at the Community Center down the street. We arranged to meet in 2nd Period. Map in hand, I followed the schedule that my son handwrote for me, and I made it to 1st Period with 2 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, he wrote down the wrong room number and sent me to Honors English. Thanks alot, buddy. I knew it the second I got all the way to the back of the room and then looked at the teacher. He has the same teacher for English this year as last, and this wasn’t her. Super. I had to get up and leave, finding that the room next door was the right one, and I got there just as the bell went off for the passing period. Great start.

Period 2 (German 3): As his German teacher greeted us with a hearty “Guten Abend!”, I was–of course–the only parent to say, “Guten Abend!” back. Ugh. Teacher’s Pet. As she talked to us parents in her cute little German accent, I chuckled a little bit mentally as I thought about the way Jim asks the boy if he has any German HomeVork or Vorksheets. It’s very “Hogan’s Heroes”. (Google it, younguns.)

Period 3 (Psychology): Is it a rule that Psychology teachers need to seem crazy? This woman was hilarious, but clearly not a “typical” teacher. She was loud, motioned wildly with her hands, and made eye contact with every single person in that room. She talked about some of her lessons and methods, and I can tell that she makes her class memorable for students. I wish I had had an exciting Psychology teacher; mine (in college) was a total bore. The sixteen-year-old came home yesterday, telling me that he missed his opportunity to “rent” a book report book from her and she told him that if he brought in some baked goods, she would get him his book. She’s THAT kind of memorable. So, off to the grocery store he went, coming home with two packages of ready-to-bake Toll House cookies. And then he baked them and set them up on a lovely plate to take to her today.

Period 4 (Lunch): We took our time getting to the LMC (we used to call it a library) for cookies and punch, and then got ourselves reoriented with the school map.

Period 5 (AP Chemistry): We got a little lost on the way; easy to do in this mammoth building. Got the details on his being able to take the AP Chem test for college credit and found out that he has a unit test today. Note to self: Go home and make sure son is studying for Chem test.

Period 6 (P.E.): Did you know that high schoolers get to choose from a long list of P.E. electives nowadays? Back in the day, we didn’t get a choice, and it was all sorts of sports that I hated, like soccer, volleyball, tennis…ugh. Our son has chosen “Strength and Body” (weight training: woo hoo!) for this semester and will get to choose Lacrosse for the spring, which will help him out with his tryouts for the team at the same time. Other choices include swimming, bowling (they are bussed to a nearby alley for one game and bussed back to school: EVERY DAY for 4.5 weeks!), walking, football, blah blah blah (others I can’t remember), and the ones I would have chosen: DANCE and AEROBICS! How fun is that????

Period 7 (Honors Algebra 2/Trig): Seriously. The layout of this school is ridiculous. His math class is on the 3rd floor, but this school has two areas of 3rd floor that are not connected. Have you heard of a BRIDGE, people? We went from P.E. on the first floor all the way up to the 3rd floor and discovered that we were on the wrong 3rd floor. This is what getting around this school is like:

Our high school (FHS in Tennessee) was awesome in its simplicity. There were four classroom wings that extended out from a central hub. Upstairs, the English wing was painted red, the Social Studies wing was painted yellow, the Math wing (I think) was painted green, and Science was in the blue wing. Anyway, it was easy to find classes. This school? Everything is painted the same. The lockers are ALL the same. When we stopped a teacher who was directing traffic to ask her how to get to room 352, she clucked at us and shook her head: “Oh, you poor, poor people. You have to go to stairway X and go all the way down. Look for stairway Y and then go all the way up. Hurry! The bell is getting ready to ring!” She was definitely a Wiseguy.

Where was I? Oh yes, Math. We arrived with only a couple of minutes to spare, and got to see one of the coolest teacher tools ever, the Smart Board. With this interactive white board, the teacher can pull up a visual of the graphing calculator and press the buttons on the Board, showing the entire class how she does a calculation. The Smart Board shows all three of the calculator’s screens simultaneously, even though the students would have to individually toggle between screens on their own calculator. You have to check this out:

I was totally dazzled. Makes me wish that my Algebra 2 high school teacher had it; maybe I wouldn’t have passed the class only by the skin of my teeth and then I wouldn’t have had to repeat the class the following year!

Period 8 (Computer Graphics 1): This class is actually part of the art department, and my son was surprised at that and, frankly, sort of annoyed. (I still don’t know what he’s got against taking an “art” class.) The class is learning about Illustrator and Photoshop, and the projects that were hanging all over the wall from Computer Graphics 1 and 2 were Advertisement Quality. I couldn’t get over it. Still can’t. I never took an art class in high school because I was too busy loading up on foreign languages, but I know that my artsy friends had to show their talent in many other ways that had nothing to do with computer technology. This was amazing. Again, where do I sign up?

No, seriously…where?