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Chuck's column: Coming and going

There's something about this job that used to bother me a ton when I was a younger teacher. Many of my colleagues thought I was crazy, but it's how I was and am emotionally built.

When I started teaching, I had a platter full of ninth graders. All ability ranges. And of course, I was excited to be in a job of any sorts, but I was having great fun in this job. I watched many of those freshmen grow over four years in the building. Then it came time to say goodbye.

It was then I realized I would likely not see most of them again. That was the component I struggled with. How could we bond for four years and for many, grow so close, only to up and say one night, "Congratulations and have a great life!" It truly was troubling to me for many years in the early part of my career. I was fortunate, however, as a handful of the first classes I taught did stay in touch.

I still communicate with a bunch of them. They were an awesome group. That first class of '86 and I spent the first four years of my career here together. I hated that it was ending. However, that's what we're all about here. I had to continually tell myself we are preparing them for that night when we say, "Goodbye and good luck!" It still didn't make it any easier. I can't tell you how many years graduation night was bittersweet for me.

And it still is. However, it's not close to the degree it once was. This year, however, has me thinking it might be a return to those days of yore because there seem to be a lot of them this year I shall miss next fall.

On the flipside, this spring, we will have the final four hours of conferences on a Thursday night. I know many parents of seniors will show up, not specifically because they want to see how their senior is doing, but if they've had three or more kids, conferences have been a part of their lives for so long, as has RHS. This night will mark the beginning of the end to them saying goodbye to a way of life. I often hear parents talking about how they'll miss this place. I find that interesting. I guess it makes sense after it's been such a major part of one's life for years.

It's a funny thing. People come and go in our lives. We far too often take them for granted. Despite the fact we know the day is coming, we still tend to ignore the inevitable. And maybe that's the way it should be. I mean, really. What's the sense in thinking about something that will come all too soon anyhow?

And so it is these final months of winter leading into spring. I want to enjoy the seniors for what they bring, not only to our building, but to my world as well. I hope they choose to stay in touch and let me know how the next phase of life is going for them. It's exciting to see them succeed outside of our school as well as inside.

Yesterday, a young man came in after school as he was heading out today for boot camp. He felt compelled to come in and say goodbye and to say thank you. He was a kid we struggled with, but maturity brought a new approach to his life as a student here. I have no doubt he's going to grow up to be an awesome adult as well as successful one. I'm glad we did something here that made him feel connected enough to return to us one last time to say goodbye.

And I can't think of a better way to end than with that. Later, Gators.