Thursday, June 5, 2003

Graduation

Freeman filled with innovation, laughter, hope

Nicole Heigh
Freeman High School

Freeman: Where is it? What is it? Who cares?

This is the response I received while asking a friend what her opinion of Freeman was.

Perhaps she meant only to elicit laughter, but her words do hold some truth. With less than 400 students (73 or so in the graduating class) and an out-of-the-way locale, it can be rather difficult drawing attention for our accomplishments and/or failures.

Yet, in the past four years, we've come a long way. We've congratulated a teacher of the month, sent various sports and academic teams to state tournaments, and watched the band, choir, and drama classes in parades, concerts, and plays, respectively. We've also observed the repeated failure of district levies.

What makes us unique, however, cannot be displayed through awards or performances. It is in our creativity, humor, and history as a class.

Narrow course offerings and limited co-curricular activities have forced the students who don't fit into such narrow boxes to break them down and reconstruct them in whatever ways they please.

Independent study, distance learning, and Running Start are all prevalent here.

You can even arrange to take a class at another high school if you still aren't satisfied. (AP calculus at University Hight School, anyone?) The faculty makes these opportunities available, but it is the students who must be willing to accept the challenge and responsibility of such freedom. We have, and because of this, we've realized that the constricted quarters of a rural high school are but physical boundaries. If we want to elevate our minds, it is the walls inside our heads we have to ax down, not the ones we lean against before class. As Bjork puts it in her song, “Look no further. It's in our hands. It always was.”

As it is with our academic paths, so it is with our sense of humor. In short, it just doesn't translate. At our school, and in our graduating class, humor is the defense mechanism of choice. Whether we're dealing with applications or tests or other typical frustrations, the response is often atypical. Apathy and passion are chopped up into tasty morsels and sauted in laughing gas.

This is not to say that the mainstream does not exist here. In fact, its water level increases every year.

But there just happens to be this swift little undertow where expression drives and pretension has to fight for shotgun.

That is what sets us apart (and free). Whether it's Vladimir the squirrel or poems urging you to “Check your eyes” in distance learning or guys wearing '80s snowsuits, if you want to stay sane here you have to give in to insanity. Yup.

One possible explanation for all our off-kilter ways could be that we've been together for such a sizeable portion of our lives. Almost a third of our class has been at Freeman since kindergarten, and over half since the scattered years of elementary school.

Thirteen years is quite a while to get to know your classmates, especially if you are just of age to gamble your life savings away.

It will be more than inconvenient to part ways with such a close-knit student body.

Yet, in the end, if we've knocked down our inhibitions properly, we are chock full of enough memories to survive the time away.

Hopefully, we will miss each other and in turn, be missed by the institution and the people that held our interest for the last few years. So what will be our class legacy at Freeman? Innovation, laughter, hope. And a picnic table.

After graduating from Freeman High School, Nicole Heigh plans to attend Tulane University.

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