Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sixth grade reunion party

Kate and I went to Houston last weekend so I could attend a reunion of my sixth grade class in the bar at Palace Bowling Lanes on Bellaire Blvd.

Clockwise from the left in the photo above are my classmates Israel Rodriguez, Gayle Carlisle, Steve Amaya, yours truly, Rose St. Andry, Shean Valentine and Shawn Stevenson. I'm rather proud of myself for not having reflexively flipped the bird like I did in a similar photo taken at our sixth grade graduation party.

Sixth grade reunions aren’t exactly common, but neither was our class. In fact, we were the last sixth grade class to graduate from Horn Elementary School 28 years ago this May.

I’m not sure why the Houston Independent School District moved sixth graders from elementary to middle school in 1981. It probably had to do with overcrowding, but maybe they were looking to consolidate budding adolescent mischief under one roof. Perched precariously between childhood and teenhood, my sixth grade class constituted a force of fun-loving insolence that manifested itself in both mudfights and spin the bottle.

Our first-year teacher, Miss Collins, did her best to keep us in line and we did our best to drive her crazy. She actually had to blow a coach’s whistle in the classroom to get us to shut up. Even so, if the principal or the teacher next door tried to call Miss Collins’ teaching ability into question, we would collectively defend her (and ourselves, by extension).

I learned a lot of life lessons in sixth grade that proved to be more valuable than most anything you’d pull out of the Texas edition of a public school textbook. Perhaps most importantly, we got to grow into ourselves together. For me, that meant having a rare sense of belonging. At the end of the year, I knew we’d had something special and fleeting even though I couldn't have defined melancholy.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one because about 15 of us showed up in the Palace Lanes’ bar on Saturday for our Facebook-facilitated reunion. It was great fun to see everyone again. My only regret was not getting to see some of my classmates who arrived after Kate and I left.

I believe Miss Collins stopped teaching after that year, but I wish she could've seen us catching up and talking about the old times on Saturday.

1 comment:

Shean said...

It was so great to see you there. I think Miss Collins would have gotten a giant kick out of this, but I think deep down she must have known that we would grow up to be pretty unique adults.