Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A high school teacher's 25th reunion

I've been wondering why reunions are so engaging.

It isn't just the satisfaction of the "where are they now" curiosity.
It isn't that you really catch up. The conversations are way too short, and the room is much too noisy and crowded. And the time goes by way too quickly to even talk to everyone you want to. There were some folks that I only waved to! Part of me felt a bit short changed and let down by this.

So why did I leave feeling so happy and energized? Why do people I haven't seen in so many years seem to mean so much to me? I'm not sure, but here's a theory I came up with.

I was a really shy kid. As I discussed in an earlier post, I'm still pretty introverted. But in high school I came out of my shell and became able to meet people with confidence and interest. Looking back, I realize that I was only able to do this because of my Flatbush classmates.

The 403 boys whom I had so much fun with. Making Rocky and Cory laugh when Bernie and I walked them home on Friday night of the Junior Shabbaton. The memories we began to mention on Sunday night were just the tip of the ice berg. And as I began to speak up more in high school, (usually using humor as my ticket for entry) I felt accepted by people I never thought would give me a second look.

Every one of those interactions was a step in becoming more self assured around people. As this social confidence grew, it gave me a much greater self respect as well. There is no way that I could do what I do for a living if I had not been developed that camaraderie with my classmates.

For my students who read this blog, (and I know there are some of you out there) I have two thoughts. First of all, remember that the friendships that you have and are making now are like no others that you will ever form.

But more importantly, remember that they way you treat each other can have more impact than you realize. This can be for good, or God forbid the opposite. None of us are perfect, but when we try to make those around us feel accepted and respected, we are helping them become their best selves.

I can tell you that here in Fuchs Mizrachi, I see that happening every day. But man, Flatbush Seniors '86 are a grade right out of history! I owe you much.


The Falcon

Glory of Friendship

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, 
nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; 
it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when 
he discovers that someone else believes in him and is 
willing to trust him. 

by Ralph Waldo Emerson


Anonymous said...

And here I thought channeling "Idaho Smith" was what gave you your confidence.... Nicely said..... -Sandy Mozes

sara said...

You are soo right! The day after the reunion I spoke to my students at Flatbush all day about the reunion. I was on such a high the next day. I guess that is why I never left Flatbush..lol... My Spanish 3 kids were already talking about their future reunion. They all promised each other they would all make it there. I just laughed..They are only juniors. I also felt short changed. I didn't get a chance to say hi to you and many others.The night was short, but it was incredible..
Sara (Farhi) Ovadia

Bernie Berger said...

Totally agree. Too many old friends to reconnect with in a meaningful way in too short a time. But it was great to see everyone, even if it was only a hand-wave and smile from across the room.

And BTW, I hadn't thought of that Junior Shabbaton night in years, it was very special.


Catskill Craver said...

I thought you were charismatic and funny in elementary school too, but I know what you mean. HS was my time to shine too - days and friends I will never forget. The reunion was indeed short, but great. Nice to reconnect and relax in the company of old friends. Good to see you!

Suzanne Bressler said...

Whoops. That was me above. And Bernie, I didn't see you - would have said hi. Thanks for the knee insights. Surgery tomorrow.

MNUnterberg said...

Thanks all!

Pesach Sommer said...

Teaching in the same school, where I graduated a few years after you did. You seemed very confident to this scared freshman:)