1. The teacher who almost failed you. Manual is known for being difficult, but we have all had one teacher whose class we really thought we were going to fail. The good news is, we didn’t. They challenged us, and even though we had to stay up till two in the morning writing a paper or studying for one of their tests, we accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion. There is no doubt that we’re going to face enormous challenges in the coming years, but because of the way we have been tested before, we know we can handle it.
2. The teacher who gave you an easy A. All students know which classes these are and who are the best teachers for it. Some people think it’s an insult to tell a teacher that his or her class is an easy A, but often times those were the classes in which I learned the most. Maybe you didn’t perfect your sentence diagramming skills or learn all about cellular respiration, but you probably did learn all about the people sitting next you, even though you might never have spoken to them otherwise. You probably learned that the most serious students take themselves seriously in that class, too. You probably learned all about Pinterest, what the funniest YouTube videos are, and what the best kind of foods are to bring for a class party. These were the teachers who helped us to grow closer as a class because we weren’t so concerned with making the grade. We had time to relax and be kids, and make the occasional trip to Cardinal Towne.
3. The weird kid who sat next to you in class. Manual is diverse, there’s no doubt about it, and when teachers whip out that seating chart you never know who is gonna end up in front of you, behind you, or even next to you. Chances are, if you think they’re weird, you never would have spoken to them outside of class, and you never would have found out how great they are at drawing, how good they are at math, how funny they are, how they always bring good food for lunch, or that they always bring gum and offer to share. They also taught you that being different is totally okay. We all have quirks and ways to express ourselves, some more brightly or loudly than others. Sitting next to the person with wild hair or someone who’s constantly tapping away at their desk to practice piano helped us all become more comfortable with our own quirks.
4. The overachiever. We all know who these kids are. The ones who hauled around all their textbooks, constantly typed away at their calculator, and hardly ever went to football games. They got perfect grades, they set all the curves, and we ordinary people had very mixed emotions about them. Sometimes we wanted to strangle them for being so uptight about everything. Sometimes we wanted to give them a standing ovation for all the hard work they put in. Sometimes we just wanted to laugh because while they slaved away taking notes on the chapter, we printed the same thing off of SparkNotes and then took a nap. Regardless of how we felt about them, we all knew them and they had an impact on our high school experience. Seeing someone so motivated made us want to work a little bit harder, and seeing someone who was so smart and talented made us feel pride. Pride in ourselves that we had been selected to study alongside them, and pride in our school because we knew that these were the kind of people that made us the best.
5. Your underclassman self. When we first walked into this school as freshmen, we couldn’t help but be intimidated by the mature, driver’s-licensed, sometimes tattooed and pierced seniors. Now, we are those seniors and the freshmen are intimidated by us. Seeing them at school is a constant reminder of what we used to be: young, short and naive. Now that we’re going out into the world, we’re freshmen all over again, and it’s important to remember how we felt back then. The things we have learned and the ways we have changed since we started high school are incredible. The lessons we have been taught will be with us forever. No matter how far away we go, no matter how much we change, that young and nervous underclassman will always be a part of who we are and we will always be a part of Manual.