Thursday, March 8, 2012

Misses, Undeserving, Overvalue, Undervalue, Overrated, Upsets Part 1

I want to think about my opportunities and moments I missed, didn’t deserve, awarded for the wrong reasons, or never given the opportunity. I wonder my life could have and should have been different if some of these events happened to me in my past. My timeline could have gone a different direction. There is a high probability I’m a better person. I become stronger, smarter, and realized I must grow up at an earlier age.

Part 1 starts with high school. If I started with junior high and earlier, then I could have written a book on my parent’s missed opportunities and lack of being proactive.

Spring Vacation in San Diego*. I took the United States Marines’ ROTC (Reserve Officer’s Training Corps) class in my freshmen year. Every spring vacation, selected cadets were flown to an actual Marine base in San Diego to experience basic training. There was physical training, lectures from officers, actual firing of a real M-16 rifle, and eating in the mess hall. The Senior Marine Instructor, a retired colonel, selected cadets from each of the two platoons. One by one, each cadet’s name was called. After the last name was called in my platoon, there was a five second pause, and one additional cadet was called. That additional cadet was not me.

I was told the additional cadet cased trouble. He missed curfew. He behaved badly and acted like a jerk. He spent time inside the military jail. If I recall correctly, he dropped out of ROTC class. I wonder if the Senior Marine Instructor kicked him out.

Two cadet officers came up to me and said I should have been the additional cadet. That could have been an unforgettable experience as a 14 year old. I fired an actual M-16 rifle. I exercised on an obstacle training course. I could have joined the armed forces when I graduated high school. Um, not really.

*I’m not 100% sure it was in San Diego. Another possibility was Hawaii. The spring vacation field trip was a big deal. The USMC paid for the entire field trip including transportation.

Blackford vs. Prospect. 1991 was a bad economy year. We were experiencing a recession. I remember Japan taking advantage of the weak dollar investing millions of money in the US. My school district was financially hurt. There was no money to keep all six high schools open. The school board held meetings and public hearings for ideas and suggestions. The final decision was close two high schools.

I attended Blackford. Blackford was selected to remain open according to the student body officers, active teachers, and school administrators. Prospect was one of the two schools expected to close because Prospect had higher operating expenses. Blackford was the bigger campus to accommodate a bigger student body population.

The school board made the announcement on a night the local news covered live. Blackford was one of the two selected to close. Prospect was saved. I had to graduate high school in a different school that I attended for one year.

My senior year at Prospect was the toughest year academically. The teachers were tougher. They assigned lots of homework and their exams were hard; for example, I never had essay questions at Blackford. The Prospect students were smarter and more sophisticated with teenage life. Blackford and Prospect seniors didn’t get along. We kept our distances. The sophomore and junior students, however, got along because they had a more recent connection from their junior high years.

I wonder what happened if I attended Prospect for all my high school years instead of Blackford. I could have been a smarter, hard-working, and more responsible student. Prospect offered more foreign language classes and AP classes. I had to work harder to maintain my GPA was in the top percentile to be accepted at a California State University. Blackford was a kick-back, relax school. Blackford teachers put less pressure on students to earn high grades; they actually curved bigger than Prospect teachers. I could have learned to take life more seriously at a younger age.

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