Sleepy students huddling together for a group photo have no idea just how close to their futures they really are.
Carl Bosch has put in 10,124 days as an educator, with 51 left to go.
Strobe lights atop ten foot-tall stands awaited our eighth graders as they piled into the gym and plopped into one section of the bleachers. Many, barely awake at 8:15 AM, were hardly ready to face the camera for the panoramic picture taking. Once in their middle school career they sit as one gigantic group to immortalize their presence here for the last three years. The photo comes out as a two foot-long freeze frame of their faces at age thirteen or fourteen.
Climbing up a ladder the photographer addresses them: “There will be four serious photos. Let’s have a nice smile,” and they do. The flash is so bright they all moan in unison. Now, they’re awake!
I actually think that the panorama is a good metaphor for the class. As wide as the photo is, so too are the members of the class. We have students who are six foot two, and several who are four foot six. Athletes and non-athletes, artists and non-artists, musicians and non-musicians. We have students whose intelligence levels are too high to measure and some who can barely read. We have the friendliest kids I’ve ever met, and some who you’d like to invite to a police line-up. They run the gamut. Panorama is accurate; it’s a bell curve for the ages.
“Everyone sit tall!”
Suddenly, 250 backs straighten up and everyone appears two inches taller on the stands. The company will sell these pictures to our students. The most expensive package is a “Formal & Informal 12″ by 30″ Laminated Prints & Two Pose Key Chain”. This will cost some loving parent $62. Where they may hang these pictures, I have no idea. Perhaps the dining room. I can imagine, “Oh look, here’s Ralph with his 253 classmates!” They do come with a “twenty-five year guarantee” on print lamination to “protect your print against spills, tears and time! “These students will be just about forty years old when the guarantee runs out.
I’m wondering if anyone, ever, anywhere, still has their twenty-five year old, laminated, 8th grade panoramic picture hanging on a wall in their house. I sort of hope not.
“Now we have the informal pose!” he shouts, “Everyone make a face.”
And they do. We’re hopeful that no one is throwing up a gang hand sign, but our teachers would only recognize one if we saw Lil Wayne doing it on the cover of People Magazine. Our street cred is pretty low. Kids lean on each other, cross their eyes, stick out their tongues, screw up their cheeks and mouths, and point at their friends, and act, well … goofy. Honestly, it’s not too far afield from how they act a lot. In the hallways, the cafeteria, the bus. Remember, they’re adolescents.
So, they take their panoramic photo as many previous classes have done. And they begin to roll downhill to 8th grade closing exercises. The clock may measure only twenty four hours in a day but they have no real idea how truly fast they’re heading toward their futures. High school is a heartbeat away. This is really make or break it time.
I feel it, too. Step lively.
Photo credit: Flickr / eddiehosa