This past weekend I did something really cool. I sang and danced on stage for the first time in 20 years.
When I was in high school I participated in the high school musicals each year. It was something that I enjoyed very much. I'm not much of a singer, and an even worse dancer, but I can carry a tune, memorize a line and learn dance steps quickly so I was in. :)
I went to a very small high school so that meant many of us got involved in a lot of activities. I was the yearbook editor, a cheerleader, was in the band and the chorus, a member of SADD, the Foreign Exchange Club and the Academic Decathlon. I dabbled in sports (but was really never any good so I stuck to cheerleading). I was even secretary of my class. It was just that kind of place. We didn't have to "specialize" like we might have had to in a big school. We didn't even have to be all that good. We just had to want to be there and we were accepted. I loved it.
I wish that my kids could know that kind of school. They probably never will because we live in a big school district where the numbers are high and I'm sure the competition is fierce. I never had to "try out" and be accepted for most things in high school. I just showed up and I belonged.
So one of the things that I did, as I mentioned, was musicals. In my years in high school I participated in four (Pajama Game, The King and I, Little Shop of Horrors and Funny Girl), all directed by our band teacher and his wife (who was a music teacher in another district). His first year of teaching, they decided that they wanted to add a musical program to our high school. The first show they staged was in 1982. They've done thirty since and he's retiring this year they decided to plan a special event to look back on those thirty years.
As a way to celebrate all thirty shows, they invited everyone back who had ever been a part of a one to perform songs from their musicals. I thought it sounded like tons of fun so I signed up.
Sixty former students (and some current students) showed up to perform. We did a verse or two from three different songs in each musical. That's 90 songs (and dances). I was involved with my four musicals so I had to learn about 9 songs/dances. We spent the entire day on Saturday working in 20-minute intervals (20 minutes for songs, 20 minutes for dance/stage for each musical). Then we did a run through of everything and then it was showtime. Of course, those of us from the "early" years were pretty rusty but I argue that we had the most fun. Catching up with everyone and spending the day engaged in musical pursuits was just uplifting to my soul. It made all of us appreciate all that our fearless leaders did for us back then and reignited a passion for music in many of us. I heard many people express the new-found desire to "keep doing this" and get involved in theater again. I know it made me want to do it again.
I came away from the weekend with sore joints (I had no idea performing was so physical!), a sense of community (and a promise to keep up with those old friends again), an appreciation for my small school (that allowed me to be involved in so many wonderful things), and a deep respect for our teachers, Mr. & Mrs. Stacey, who aare leaving a legacy to that school like no other. I can only hope that when I retire I'll have touched so many young people's lives in such an inspiring way.
So tell me about your high school experience. What were you involved in?