[Thank you to Debbie Pecis for recommending I capture these thoughts in blog form.]
When I was in high school one million years ago, I was part of something called Academic Super Bowl. (Make your own jokes.) We were among the first non-sports teams, as I was aware, to win a number of state championships. The tradition at the time was to place photos of state award-winning students outside the walls of our gymnasium. I suspect our wonderful coaches Tom Lough and Jan Hammer, among others, had to work minor miracles (and call in some favors) to allow those of us not holding a ball or a javelin to be placed alongside those accomplished student athletes.
For years, these pictures remained up, and egotistically I admit that fact was a source of pride for me. A few years back, the athletic director inexplicably decided they all needed to come down. My intrepid parents Don and Susie Sexton tried to snag these to no avail. Now, in 2020, my hometown has built a new high school, and they are tearing down our old one. An auction was held for all of the contents of the old school, and these resurfaced.
Thanks to dear friend and always free-thinking Tina Honaker Houser for spotting them and alerting me. I am happy to report I won them in the auction – thank you to wonderful Phil Wolfe of Schrader Auction and delightful Q Qureshi of Columbia City Goin’ Postal for helping me nab them and for getting them safely to my home. Now I have to figure out what the hell to do with them! Lucy isn’t quite sure what to think. Something tells me I can’t hang them up in the living room. LOL.
I admit that I think it’s a shame that the high school was willing to trade in all of its history for a quick buck. Perhaps that is overly cynical. Nonetheless, regarding the moments captured in these photos, I will always be grateful for the encouragement and confidence that this seminal experience provided me in high school. The support I received from my parents and from these teachers to be my own unique and authentic self placed me on an incredible life path.
I sensed at the time that teacher-coaches Jan Hammer and Tom Lough and their compatriots were doing something unusual and (surprisingly for an academic environment) seemingly rebellious. I don’t know whether or not school administrators – both those at the time and the ones that follow – realize the inadvertently negative messages they send with decisions and positioning like what I’ve described above. However, I will always be grateful for those willing to challenge them. THAT is ultimately what these images represent for me, I suspect. I will treasure these photos always.