e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org,Residence: Chico, CA
Note: This is an absolutely wonderful piece written by Dave
Campbell, Sr. English teacher and director of Sr. Play.
One of the bittersweet pleasures of teaching is discovering what finally became of those fresh, optimistic, cheerfully confused faces that float in front on the podium for a year to two and then disappear into some kind of nebulous future. What fresh disasters await them? What promises will be achieved, tragedies dealt with, dreams lost and found? Will the Class Valedictorian become Secretary of State or will the Class Clown crack wise on Saturday Night Live? Usually the answer is far more complex and the lives led more unpredictable.
You have no idea how pleased your Former English Teach was to discover the adventures you've had, to learn that so many of you have successfully negotiated the pitfalls of the decades, have found a niche that fits each of you with no little amount of personal success.
Some of you trod the boards in Terra Nova's First Dramatic Production, The Man Who Came To Dinner, a funny play in a lively production; Jeannie Janson was the assistant director, and Mel Jones played Sheridan Whiteside. Whatever happened to Mel Jones? What you may not know is that it was the first time I had directed a high school play, being primarily an English Teacher, and previously in Los Angeles. Your classmate, Joyce Reed, corralled me one day after English and fixed me with a steely gaze worthy of Lady Macbeth requesting that I direct a "Senior Play." Having had some film and theatre background I acquiesced, and after five years at TN, I was no longer teaching English; a full-time drama program, augmented by a second teacher, existed, and I hope Joyce knew what she had accomplished for Fine Arts in Pacifica before she passed on.
Another ten years, and Mr. Campbell was a full-time counselor for the classes of 1981, 84 and 87...and then left while the going was good for all concerned. As most of you have learned through experience with your own, teens tend to be Energy Vampires and for me, after 33 years, the well ran dry at last.
Alice Hand suggested I might want to "muse on times changed" since members of the Class of 1965 passed though Tigerland. Each of you was part of that change, and the alterations that took place in the classrooms of Pacifica in the often confusing decades following were also changing the nation, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. What I recall best about the English students in my classroom was their open enthusiasm, their ability to accept challenges, the desire to engage intellectually; thirty years later, after war and drugs and lifestyle changes and hand-held mechanical devices that engage and divert attention, much of the natural zest in the average student has dissipated; I was briefly back in an English classroom in 1986, and was aghast at the resistance to learning, at the need to be passively entertained. If I had assigned Wuthering Heights there would have been an insurrection.
In 1965, there were no "Advanced" English classes, no AP classes, no required Senior English. Regardless of your future destinations, Seniors who wanted English were all rounded up in that dreadful dungeon room that some twisted architect created, and filed in, ready to learn whether the air conditioning worked or not (usually not). And learn you did, reading Beowulf and Chaucer, accepting the necessity to read an entire early English novel, requesting a second Shakespearian play, and while not always liking it, throwing yourselves into poetry as if it were verbal play--and giving back. I think that's what I recall most about your particular class--the giving back; and you still do. I was most impressed and delighted to find my name generously mentioned by several former Dungeon Inmates. In the past ten years, I have exchanged letters and emails with some of you; it's fascinating how many have moved North, relocated from Scenic Pacifica to Scenic Elsewhere.
During my last 5 years at TN, I lived in Sausalito on a houseboat, served on the Tamalpais School Board, and then tried out some locations in Oregon--Otis and Portland (where a former TN Student maintains her own theatre company), returned briefly to San Francisco, which after the coastal forests of Oregon was far too cluttered and noisy, and relocated where the sun shines with heated regularity and the temperature frequently soars on forty forested acres above the Greater Sacramento Valley.
I do not have time on my hands, but I do have apple trees that I planted. I would be delighted to hear from any of you who care to say hello.