Music Monday – Home Again

Heidelberg, GermanyI love Elton John’s music and his new single, “Home Again”, is another winner for me.  I just heard it for the first time today, but it speaks to me.  For anyone who’s followed my blog for a while or read through enough of my posts, you know I’m an Army brat who graduated from Heidelberg High School in Germany.  Many, most of us Lions (the HHS mascot) consider Heidelberg our home, especially if we graduated from the high school.  I’ve wanted to make it back, but haven’t yet managed it.  Earlier this summer, the high school closed its doors for good, and just recently, the military community officially closed.  I’m sad, as are lots of us Heidelbergers…and we all spend our time “trying to get back home again.”

Home Again by Elton John

(released 2013; peaked #15 US Adult Contemporary)

If I could go back home, if I could go back home
If I’d never left, I’d never have known
We all dream of leaving, but wind up in the end
Spending all our time trying to get back home again

 

Vikki Carriger, one of our pride is going to be on X Factor this week and we’re all hoping to see her do well.  You can find her single, “In My Pocket”, on iTunes and AmazonMP3.

Music Monday – Closing Time

It’s a sad time for many generations of students who walked the halls of Heidelberg High School.  In drawing down the force levels in Germany, the Army relocated the functions of the Heidelberg community.  As such, Heidelberg High School is closing its doors for good.  The large majority of Lions (our mascot) have fond memories and strong bonds with our fellow pride members and are deeply saddened by the cl0sing of our school.  I wrote a post about the unusual bond the we Lions share last year:  The Pride of Lions.

Closing Time by Semisonic

(released 1998; peaked #1 US Alternative, #2 Canadian Alternative, #11 US Hot 100)

Closing time
Time for you to go out to the places you will be from
Closing time
This room won’t be open till your brothers or your sisters come
So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits
I hope you have found a friend
Closing time

Semisonic’s song may not be about the closing of a school, but taken out of context, a lot of the lines can be applied to the closing of our school.

 

…and since we’re talking about my high school closing, I’ll throw in one more.  At my senior prom after party, a couple of classmates sang this song.  It was the theme of our prom and they did a great job!

Always by Atlantic Starr

(released 1987; peaked #1 US Hot 100, #1 US R&B, #1 US Adult Contemporary, #3 UK Singles)

A Few of My Favorite Things…err, Teachers, that is

Today, Heidelberg High School Lions are mourning the loss of one of our beloved teachers, Mrs. Wanda McCollar.  Not only did she teach us writing and visual arts, but she had a way of wrapping lessons on life up into what she taught, as well.  She was funny and charming and had a way of drawing even the shy folks out of their shells for one period of the day.  She was the first teacher to get my interested in poetry.  I remember analyzing The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot.  I remember having to write a one hundred word sentence that wasn’t a run on.  And I remember the stories she’d tell us.  She was a nut.  And we loved her.  Thankfully, through Facebook, lots of Lions were able to friend her and enjoy her humor and friendship as adults.  She will be missed.

As I thought about Mrs. McCollar today, I also started thinking about the vast number of teachers I’ve had over the years and how many really stand out…and while there were some things I liked about a lot more of the teachers or some of the things I did in their classes that were memorable, the only ones who really stand out positively for me, other than Mrs. McCollar, are:

“Your head is hard, it is difficult.”  – Mr. Moore, HHS – My eleventh grade honors English teacher.  He was a trip.  I learned more about speaking correctly in his class because that seemed to be what we did the most…talk.  He’d come in and we’d talk and he’d call us names or make little insults in ways that made us remember the corrections he made to our speech.

“Hazlo!” – Senor Pappas – My fourth year Spanish teacher, HHS.  He had a way of teaching class that made it seem like we weren’t really working although I know we worked the whole period.  One of his favorite things to do was, when going over command forms, to open his door and then make sure the German teacher, Mr. Berg, had his door open.  “Hazlo!” sounds quite a bit like the German word for a-hole…especially when heard from across the hall.

Mr. “Slam” Graham – Lawrence North High School, Indiana – I can’t freehand draw a thing, but give me a drafting table and some Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits, and I can whip out your drawing in no time.  Mr. Graham looked more like he belonged on a construction site than in the classroom, but he had an engaging personality and cool, approachable manner that made asking questions easy.  But don’t let his college sports jock manner fool you, he knew his subject and always got the line weight perfect the first time when drawing.

I’m sure that many of the other teachers I had were great and that they reached other students, but for some reason they just didn’t make a strong impression on me…positively, at least, and this post isn’t about the ones I didn’t like.

I’m going to close with a quote by Stephen King, which comes from the pages of “Lisey’s Story“:

“You want to be good for the ones you love, because you know that your time with them will end up being too short, no matter how long it is.”

If you have/have had a great teacher, let them know what an impression they had on your life before they are gone.  R.I.P., Mrs. McCollar.

The Pride of Lions

Improve your image, be seen with a LionThe strength of the pride is in the bonds of its members.

For members of the pride of Lions from Heidelberg High School, the bonds are strong.  Scattered around the world, we find other members and welcome them back into the group, typically through Facebook.  Our pride in our school and bonds with each other extend not only to fellow students and classmates in those grades with whom we may have shared classes, but to those Lions who came before and after us, as well as the faculty and staff of our beloved school.

What is it about HHS that makes our bond so tight?  Why is it that we’re willing to embrace fellow students from ten to 20 years earlier or later as if they were our peers?  It’s a puzzling question.  One that I can’t quite put my finger on.  I attended three different high schools.  First half of ninth grade at one, through the end of tenth at the next, and the last two at Heidelberg.  At the first, I am in touch (through FB) with about ten people who were my friends there (and during the previous two years during middle school) and I have no contact at all with anyone from my second high school.  My list of friends from HHS, though, is close to or greater than 200.

So, why is it that there are so many Lions on my list, many of whom share between 130 and 180 mutual friends?  I think a big part of it is that the majority of us are Army Brats, rounded out with dependents of Army civilians, contractors, and some foreign military, Canadians mostly, as I recall.  The “Army Brat” culture is a bond in itself, but now displace these kids and put them in a foreign country and that bond gets tighter…now they are “Overseas Brats.”  I don’t want to get off track discussing the Army Brat and Overseas Brat culture here, but they are integral to the bonding of the HHS family.

Heidelberg #1The other big factor in the HHS bond is Pride.  We loved our school and the Heidelberg community!  Years later, we still hit the school website and check Stars & Stripes news site to see what’s going on in our old stomping grounds and with our school and its sports teams.  We were all pleased to hear that the boys and girls basketball teams both took home European Championships this year, by the way.  We still buy HHS hoodies and t-shirts and such and wear them around.  We have planned mini-reunions multiple times a year at various locations around the U.S. and, of course, there are the reunions in Heidelberg –those that can’t make it eagerly await the pics of our friends and are green with envy.  We also have impromptu gatherings when one of us is heading somewhere for business or pleasure, we’ll send out a notification and Voila!  a gathering of Lions ensues.

I know this sounds like I’m just painting a rosy picture of our school and that we never had problems.  We did.  Just like any other school, we had our cliques, but we had a lot more “cross pollination” amongst those cliques than I saw at either of my other two schools.  Maybe it was because, as Army Brats, we’d grown up in varied places and learned to get along with lots of different people and cultures.  Maybe it was because we knew that if we got into really big problems, it could spill over into trouble for our parents or result in us being sent back to the States.  Whatever the reasons, as a rule, we just all got along better than normally seen in American high schools.

…and that has spilled over to our lives years after graduation.  We still love our school.  We miss Heidelberg.  We still have some semblances of the cliques, but we still cross-pollinate and chat and get together when we can.  We are saddened when we lose a member and we gladly welcome members into/back into the family when we find them.  Our Pride is strong and we work to keep it that way.

Heidelberg Schloss from across the Neckar

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