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Thursday, August 11, 2011

High School Reunion

 I went to Des Moines Technical High School. I graduated, (wait for it......... it has been a very long time so this will be a very long wait.........) THIRTY YEARS AGO! It astounds me every time I think of it. I grew up at the tail end of the generation that said "never trust anyone over thirty." Now, I have been out of high school for that long. Something is just very wrong about that!

My high school was very different and unique. It was a technical high school. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it was a school that not only taught you everything you needed to graduate from a regular high school, but taught you a trade at the same time.
 In many ways it was a typical high school, with basketball, football and track teams. In other ways it was very different. We took all of the normal classes, English, math, history. Along with the traditional curriculum we also had a core area. We spent three hours a day in our core areas. Core areas could be anything from nursing, to accounting, to commercial art to auto mechanics. These core areas are what set our school apart from the other high schools in Des Moines, or really, just about anywhere. It was really something very special. An experience I will never forget, and certainly have never ever regretted.

Having spent three hours a day with the same people over a high school career, doing something that you were very interested in together, it brings a different social dynamic than your normal high school. I was in the commercial art core area. We had the range of people from the homecoming queen to the outcast druggy in our core area. But we were all brought together with the common interest of art.

I went to a traditional high school for my first year. I never quite fit in anywhere. I wasn't a "freak" as we called the crowd that enjoyed smoking pot in the back of the school bus. I certainly did not fit in with the "jock" crowd. My idea of an athletic activity was a game called slaughter that my friends and I enjoyed playing. It was not an organized sport in anyway, which is probably why we all enjoyed it. Not one of us were the organized sports type. We fit in with each other, but kind of stuck out in our school. In junior high some of us were mercilessly teased and picked on by both the freaks and the jocks.

When I transferred to Tech, I fit in. Students came from all parts of Des Moines. I was from the south side, my husband, who also graduated from Tech, was from the west side. One of my good friends was from the east side. Most of the students at Tech were there for a reason. The reason was our chosen core area. That is what brought us together. It was there that the homecoming queen and the freak from the back of the bus found common ground.  Not that it was a utopia in any way. There were still issues and still those bound and determined to cause drama, but it was not quite as pronounced there.

Sadly, the Des Moines school district decided to close Tech in 1986. The building remained a school, but no longer a Technical high school. It became more of a magnet school, where students from all of the schools from Des Moines and even surrounding school districts come to take classes that are not offered at their home school, not necessarily  a vocational class.

We got to tour the building for our reunion. It has changed to the point of being unrecognizable in many parts. There is now an elementary school and middle school in the building. (Perhaps this is the time I should point out that the building is a five story former WWII bomb factory with two basements.) The part of the building that I spent most of my time is completely different. The basement where Willie took auto mechanics looks mostly the same.

The reunion was a multi year reunion, not just our class. It was planned quickly and many who wanted to come couldn't due to short notice, but it was still well attended and a lot of fun. It was good to see a few old friends.

The best part was spending the weekend with my two best friends ever, Dawn and Kelley. The weekend was full of laughter till we had to run to the rest room or wet our pants. Memories of old times and jokes about menopause, part of the whole running to the bathroom problem. Each time we get together it is like no time has passed since we walked down the isle of the auditorium wearing our blue robes with blue and gold tassels.

We have been friends since we were McCombs Jr. High Trojans, and became Des Moines Tech Engineers. I can't see anything changing that now. We have shared tears, laughter, jobs and adventures. We fought over boys and built snowmen and finger painted on Dawn's mom's kitchen floor, yeah, we were in high school when we did those things, (maybe that explains a little about not fitting in at times.) We grew up together and are still growing and learning together. We live in three different states, yet have a bond that won't break. I don't know how I got so lucky, or what I did right to get to experience junior high, high school and life with these extraordinary women, but I thank God every day for them.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like a great time, both your high school years and the reunion!

    i loved my three years in hugh school too, my school was a mix of different people and education (i studied the classics). i don't think the swedish high schools in general are as polarised as i get the impression that american high schools are, sure we have nerds but no jocks-types and such. usually more room for students to be as they are. in general.

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