Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews argues that since far more people went to high school than college, we should reference that part of their history when talking to them. My parents graduated from high school in 1964. When any of their peers asked where they went to school, they didn't mean where my parents went to college, grad school or seminary, they meant high school. And in Denver, abbreviations ruled the day. My Dad went to "TJ" -- Thomas Jefferson. My Mom went to "GW" -- George Washington. In many ways, this explained much of what you needed to know about someone's adolescence and background. Mathews writes:
High school defines us. It is an educational experience we nearly all share. Useful abilities, such as reading, writing, math and our own peculiar talents for the most part take root in high school, or don’t, to our sorrow. High school offers lessons in love, social dynamics, news and what we are most likely to enjoy in our adult lives, at work and play. Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif., gave me more than my colleges, Occidental and Harvard.
High school dramas are staples of television and cinema. Far more people attend high school sporting events than those at colleges. High school teachers are far more likely to have an impact on the lives of students than college professors.
Yet we don’t act as if any of that high school stuff is important. In a lifetime of social gatherings, I cannot remember ever being asked where I went to high school. The college experiences, on the other hand, are frequently discussed.
I think he may be on to something. I have barely any relationship with the University of Colorado, which granted me my economics degree. In many ways, I think Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, Colorado, defined me more. It was an excellent school with high-performing peers. We had many from our class go on to become doctors, scientists and academics. One of them even won a MacArthur Grant in her young 30s. Another is an Academy Award nominated actress. My best friends from that period of time remain my best friends. I didn't make lasting friendships in college, possibly due to the fact that I worked full time to pay for my schooling.
I don't have particularly fond memories of high school, except for the fact that I made some of my most enduring friendships during that time. I didn't make lasting friendships in college, possibly due to the fact that I worked full time to pay for my schooling. I've been thinking about this as I decide whether to attend my -- gasp -- 20th high school reunion this summer.
Anyway, I'm curious if any of you attended high schools that significantly influenced you.