Grade 9-12

THIS BLOG IS ABOUT MY HIGH SCHOOL YEARS. This will be a fun one. I’m far removed from the Erik I knew in high school, so it will be interesting to look back.

So while we are in quarantine, I want to tell you a few memories from my years in high school.

I only graduated high school eight years ago, but in eight years, so much has changed. I went to a chartered high school, which only meant that our teachers and curriculum were quite progressive with their educational standard. I went to high school with my two brothers who I grew up on the block with. If one of us was there the other two were likely to be seen. We spend a lot of time together and I could probably write a book of comedy about all the awful ideas that we schemed out.

I wasn’t a great student. I wasn’t highly motivated and wasn’t very forward thinking. Most other students were academically inclined. I wasn’t. I was always distracted and couldn’t stay interested in studying long enough. It is strange to talk about now because I enjoy studying very much, and I’m good at it. Even though I wasn’t a great student, I had the smarts to do well. I didn’t value myself, but I can remember certain teachers who saw my potential more than I did.

There is one teacher in particular — Mr. Nordstrom, the math teacher — who taught the university math class I took my senior year. He was a nerdy old man. Not very smooth on the talking, but he was a geek for math and had a very gentle spirit. My forte now is writing, but in high school I was far from being an crafty with words and ideas. Even thought I didn’t like it, math at least clicked when I was trying. I was not trying very hard, but in senior year I decided to put my effort into math class. Actually I had a friend in that class who I was having a competition with. He was naturally the best math student in the class. Math came easy for him and he truthfully admitted to being in a lower math class for his level. I was not good at math but knew that I could be great at it when I paid attention. So I took it as a challenge to do get a better grade than him by the end of the semester. I put myself to it that semester. I was listening and Mr. Nordstrom was a good teacher. He saw my effort and he taught math to me that semester. The final exam came. My friend and I had the highest scores in the class, mine was only a half percent higher than his!

Graduation came and our school held an private invitation awards ceremony at the affiliated university. I was surprised to be invited since I barely graduated high school — how was I worthy of being at the ceremony? I sat with Mr. Nordstrom at the banquet table. We were dressed very nice and I was proud to be there, but it was a mystery. When the awards came to mathematics, Mr. Nordstom awarded me the best math student in that particular math class that year. It was a university class, and I was very proud. That memory sticks in my head, I owe it to Mr. Nordstrom for being my teacher. I like math now. It is a strange and mysterious language actually, and I like studying it.

This is also memorable from high school. I was not great at English and writing in high school, but it is not for lack of skill. I had some inclination for English, but mostly I tried not to try very hard. I am not sure why I didn’t accept this part of me in high school. Back then it never dawned on me that it took more effort to avoid trying than it did to actually try. I tried not to try. I took an English class with Mrs. Oberg when I was a junior. She was ‘the friend’. And she was a smart friend. She was not a mediocre thinker, but I was not mature enough to receive what she was trying to teach. She is something like the English teacher that Rob Williams played in Dead Poets Society (it’s one of my dad’s favorite movies).

We would read case studies, and write papers throughout the year. It was great practice. At the time I took in the new ideas more than I did the practice of writing. I leaned about unconscious bias. I had never thought about that before. She introduced the death penalty debate. I was great thing to learn about. We talked about a lot of ideas in class, and she tried me. When she tried me, I would shirk away. I rarely met Mrs. Oberg in class when she was trying to reach me. I did sometimes, but not enough. She planted the initial seeds. That is when I first became doubtful about things. I learned to look at these things, Mrs. Oberg showed me to it first. I learned more from her in retrospect than I did when I was actually in her class.

I remember these two teachers very well from high school. I can’t forget the writing teacher, Mr Bigallow. I read some of the best books in his classes. He had a great taste, I liked his nerdy brain.

I played football my senior year. I remember joining the football team because I enjoyed being with myself a lot more often. I’d lost a lot of weight that year and so I really loved to be outside exercising. It is true, I also joined the football to be away from home. If I got home to early in the day, my mom would put me to work, so I joined the football team.

I was not an athlete by any means. I was good at conditioning and I became great and lifting weights, but I was never athletically inclined. I was not quick and not shifty, but I was just a try-hard. I dressed with the Varsity team because I was a senior, but I never played. I played on the Junior Varsity team, but at least that team was wholesome. Their were some boys on that team, but they were at least respectable.

The Cottonwood High School Varsity Football team and faculty had an ugly side in 2014. The coaches were unprofessional and egoistic. The varsity boys behaved like improper animals in the locker room and on the field. There were a few upright guys, I remember them specifically. I was bullied on the field and mistreated by some varsity boys. I always played defensive line during practice for the varsity offensive line. In between plays, the O-line would knock me to the ground. I get up and they knocked me down again and laughed all the time. One of the coached cussed me out and kicked me off the field for giving him attitude. I was giving him attitude! He was blatantly unprofessional, disrespectful and condescending, I was often the recipient of his yelling. He kicked me off, I threw my jersey at his feet and he was upset. I saw him at the gym a few years later. He saw me, but he couldn’t meet my eyes. I remember the O line at cottonwood. They did the same thing to me in Rugby sometimes. I played with a number of teams, and there were some guys who who big bullies. They had their entertainment by bothering other people, and I was often the recipient of that also.

These are all great memories from high school. It was a great time. It was a time of discovery and it was a time to have a lot of fun and not be too serious. Those days are in the books!

Sat Nam

Erik H.

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