Worried about being late, I screeched to a halt in an illegal parking spot at Spartanburg High School. I hurriedly grabbed my stuff I wanted to take and met my friends at the front of the school. Sounds like my old high school days? We won't talk about the distant past but this was today. Members of the Spartanburg High School Class of 1980 gathered to take a tour of our old school and see how things have changed over the years. Our tour guides, members of the student council who graciously gave up some of their weekend time to be with us greeted us at the front. One asked if Mr. John Woodring was in the crowd. Wow! Maybe my famous blogging preceded me and I am getting special VIP treatment?The young man took me to a room and told me the principal instructed him to take me here. When the young man rushed out I realized I was in the In School Suspension room. A note on the board said this is for that little classroom disturbance you caused in chemistry during your senior year, have fun! It was signed by the principal. I guess some things never change!
As we went through the school we marveled at the changes, reminisced about the past, and told old war stories (some of which the tour guides should not have heard). One thing I eventually heard was about how something that might have done in school that seemed insignificant back then turned out to define our lives. One woman who became a nurse talked about the chemistry teacher who helped her when she struggled in the course. Another man who was a true math and science geek now writes embedded software for satellites. It was at Spartanburg High School where I took a course to escape math, computer programing. This was where I first touched the technology that helps bring food on the table in Casa Woodring.
The teacher was Josephine Earls and the computer was an IBM 5100. The first thing she told the class was computers were stupid and humans had to tell the machine how to do everything. This is something I tell students today. We learned how to program in Basic to make the computer do all kinds of tasks. Some of my classmates and I would hang out in Ms. Earls office, where she kept the computer, to program then play all kinds of games. We had lots of fun during those countless hours. There are more computers at Spartanburg High School with far more power than that little IBM machine. Then again, looking at how some of the young users in 1980 turned out, maybe we are underestimating that little computer's power.
I am sure Spartanburg High is struggling through all of the problems schools across the United States are facing. It was surprising to find that not all of the classrooms have interactive whiteboards. There are not enough computers to satisfy everyone. Test scores, district initiatives, and other things that take up teachers' time are also discussed in faculty lounges and workrooms. Hopefully, those teachers should take a moment and realize that what they do does make a difference.
Here's to the Spartanburg High School Class of 1980! Proud members of the best class of the best high school in the world! Go Vikings!
Note to the Spartanburg High School Principal: If you noticed the pep rally area has been repainted blue and gold with a Viking head and Class of 1980 Rules! We have no knowledge of how it happened. We were all together at the Marriott talking over old times. That's our story and we are sticking to it.