Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This is Not the End.

Well, here we are, so many years later. I'm graduating from high school tomorrow. Unlike other awards or honors you can receive, where you say things like, "I was never expecting this" or "I've worked really hard for this" or even something like "I don't deserve this," completing your education through high school and earning your diploma shouldn't be like that. You should expect it, it should be obvious as to whether you've worked hard for it, and you should definitely not be getting one if you don't deserve it. The only phrase that should be used in both scenarios is this one: "Thank you".

Thank you to my family, for working hard to support me throughout my life, and for staying out of my room and my way when I said that I had serious work to do. Thank you to my friends, for giving me great advice and homework help, someone to talk to, and somewhere to sit. Thank you to my peers, those people who I walked beside every day, and whose close proximity and friendly smiles always made me feel a little less alone. Most importantly, thank you to my teachers, especially those whose work has impacted not only the work I do, but also my decisions, and therefore, my life.

During this reflective time, I've been thinking a lot about how where I've been has affected where I'm going. English teachers, of course, come to mind immediately (and librarians, but that's a little different). And in reflecting on them - the good and the great, the shallow and deep - I've reflected on the works we read WITH them. This has made me realize and understand exactly how long this journey - my high school experience - has taken.

FRESHMAN YEAR- Ms. O. and Mrs. B.
Best: The Odyssey, Ender's Game
Worst: The Secret Life of Bees, Romeo and Juliet
 While The Odyssey was (an) epic, Romeo and Juliet were barely tolerable, or even old enough to be dating in the first place. The Secret Life of Bees was unbearable (one memorable classmate skipped reading all together, and simply saw the movie). Ender's Game was the best, by far, and worth rereading; besides, it helped me find one of my favorite book sub-genres (Sci-Fi Warfare: like Dune, Ender's Game, or soon-to-be-read World War Z).
Best: To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre
Worst: Fahrenheit 451, Julius Caesar
 The worst possible thing to do to a biblio-freak like me, is to give them a book about destroying books. Now when I read, the terrible notion that all the books in the world may one day be burned, and that I should memorize the one I'm reading to preserve it for the future, has always hung over my head when I am exploring a particularly good book (The Last Book in the Universe had a similar effect). Also, Julius Caesar pales in comparison to a play like Hamlet, which we read this year. Jane Eyre, however, is a book that I not only treasure, but my sister does as well, and To Kill a Mockingbird was a moving portrait of childhood and of injustice, with a strong Southern twang.
Best: The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter
Worst: Macbeth, The Grapes of Wrath
First rate teacher - the best I've ever had in this subject, actually. Gatsby introduced me to the fanciful world and frenetic energy of Fitzgerald, while the Grapes of Wrath simply was as dry as the dust the Joad family was trying to get away from. Macbeth was meh, and I'm not going to bother pretending that my enjoyment of The Scarlet Letter wasn't amplified thanks to the movie Easy A.
This year. My last. One of the best classes I've ever been a student in. And while I should probably have been including the books I read in class with the ones I was counting on my blog, I forgot. Remedying it now:
Best: Hamlet (#31), Pride and Prejudice (#32), Antigone (#33), Oedipus Rex (#34), Heart of Darkness (#35)
Worst:, Their Eyes Were Watching God (#36), The Things They Carried (I actually did remember to blog about this one, but not for a happy reason...)
Hamlet was not so great at decision making, but Antigone and Oedipus Rex didn't exactly succeed as monarchs either. I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice all over again during class discussions, and Heart of Darkness was used as partial inspiration for the Jungle Cruise in Disneyland, so it's all right with me. :)

Anyways, that's my past for years in public school-mandated reading material. I really do recognize the fact that I've come along way, thanks in no small part to the triumph of my teachers. However, I know that I won't ever stop reading or writing, and that their lessons will endure. They laid the groundwork of my education, and provided me with various lenses through which I can view the world around me and the world on the page. 

The end of my high school career by no means marks the end of my education (besides the obvious fact that I'm going to college, and later, graduate school). Literature has always been a part of my life, and it's because my teachers helped instill in me a love of reading that will never fail me. The end of high school is not the end for me... simply because I know that the lessons of my teachers will still be guiding and teaching me throughout my life. 

Thank you, teachers!

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