Monday, August 17, 2009

If These Hallowed Walls Could Talk...10 Year High School Reunion Recap

If these old halls,
If hallowed halls could talk,
These would have a tale to tell
Of sun goin’ down and dinner bell,
And children playing at hide and seek
from floor to rafter,
If these halls could speak.

Thanks to the gentle prodding of these lovely ladies
I found myself walking up the steps of this imposing structure on Friday afternoon.
As my lovely alma mater states on their site: Holy Names Academy, the oldest continually operating school in Washington State, is a private, Catholic, college preparatory school for girls in grades 9-12. Established in 1880 by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Holy Names Academy has graduated over 8,900 students. This is where Chris usually likes to point out that his graduating high school class had about the same number of students that my entire school had. The class of 1999 had about 110 girls at graduation.

I was a fairly shy, introverted 14 year old when I arrived at HNA after a rough two years in junior high. I was more interested in books than boys, which was good since there was nary a male teenager to be found in this school. I appreciated HNA's strong dedication to science and math and quickly joined the Earth Science Corps., the pinnacle of nerdiness. I signed on to the rowing team and enjoyed four years as an oarsman (oarswoman?), despite the fact that I never was a standout athlete. Best of all, I found a group of like-minded individuals who were smart, funny, and interested in a wide range of activities.Personally, I enjoyed high school. I liked [most] of my teachers, I appreciated the all-girls environment [no matter how much we complained about it], and I felt that I was strongly prepared for college after four challenging years at HNA.
Of course, there were downsides: HNA was founded by Catholic Nuns, and religion classes (every day, for four years) were required. What a complete and utter waste of time. Seriously. HNA: ditch the old, outdated theology courses. Keep the 9th grade curriculum (World Religions) and toss everything else overboard. Or make them optional, to be taken by all the girls whose Catholic parents that want their daughters to have the proper faith-based education. To think of all that time wasted, listening to Sister Rosemary expound upon the intricacies of the Old Testament. Oh! Imagine those art, biology or music classes that I could have taken instead! Writing about it, I find that I'm actually still rather regretful of that wasted time and lost opportunities. Can't you tell?

I think this was my locker. Or was it the one next door? How can I not remember this?

This is for all the lovely ladies out there that didn't attend the reunion. This portrait is immediately recognizable:
Generally, I'm pleased that I attended our reunion. There were a number of folks with whom it was nice to reconnect. My classmates have done amazing things: joined the Peace Corps, moved to Hawaii, started their own businesses. I am in awe of their accomplishments.

I also enjoyed strolling through the halls and remembering times that seemed so very long ago. There are locks on the doors, security cameras in the hallways, and the classrooms are filled with fancy looking technological devices, but the essence of the school hasn't changed one bit. It's old, and rather dusty, but it was a great place for learning. And, I'm sure there is a teacher, somewhere, that is keeping her ruler handy to make sure that every girl's skirt fall no more than three inches above her knees.

I trust that girls attending the school today enjoy the same level of excellent teaching that I had as a student. Almost all of my favorite teachers have left or retired, which, I suppose, is not unexpected ten years later. For the student's sake, I hope that the rumblings I've heard of teacher unhappiness with the current administration haven't too greatly affected the level of education. HNA's strength was in its teaching body and I was well served by exceptional and inspirational educators.