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Chuck's column: Class of 2013 made an impression

I remember my graduation night from high school as if it happened yesterday. God only knows it didn't, but it was quite the night. At 18, it was one of my most emotional evenings ever. I really didn't want to leave high school. I loved the social aspect of it; unfortunately, I wasn't great academically. I spent my energies in student council and theater. When I think about my experiences as a teacher over the years, I think perhaps I might have frustrated a teacher or two, simply because I was an underachiever in the classroom.

When I came to RHS, I remember my early graduations well. The first one was not all that memorable, only because I had but one year to have established any relationships with kids. Most of my classes were freshmen. The class of '86, which you have heard me mention before, was a freshman class and we grew together those four years. By the fourth graduation then, I had established many a relationship with the kids and their families.

That graduation night was incredibly sad for me. This group of kids I had gotten to know so well was moving on with the next phase of their lives, and I wasn't likely to figure in that phase. I knew the chances of seeing most of them were slim to none. It was like a long relationship breaking up after years of commitment. Frankly, that night tore my heart out.

The graduation was on the field because the weather was gorgeous. When the ceremony was done, I walked on to the field to begin the congratulations. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't keep my eyes dry for more than a few seconds. Just when I thought I was going to be all right, along would come another graduate to hug me and the battle to fight the tears began all over. I finally settled in to recognizing this was just the way it was going to be.

I'm sure it seems silly to some of you, but that was a hard night for me. These were kids I had known, in many cases, for four years, and as excited as I was for them, it was killing me saying goodbye. I remember going home after that, trying hard to put it behind me. When I visited the kids at their open houses, I had my emotions a tad more in check, but they still reared their ugly heads at moments.

I have maybe felt that way about a class two other times in my 31 years. I believe I felt the same way about the class of '87 and then again, '91. I always hate saying goodbye to certain students. How can you not? With these classes, though, there were so many to whom I had allowed myself to become attached.

Then along comes the class of 2013. Once again, I feel, for the first time in years, that a large number of these kids have wormed their way into my heart and graduation night is going to be deadly for this old man. Sometimes, you meet a kid who is just a rare breed of kid, and I think there is more of that type this year than in prior years. I shall sorely miss many from this group.

And what lies beyond? Work? Military? College? It's such an exciting time for them. For those going to college, I am deeply jealous. College was my favorite time in my life. I was free from my parents, but I also had them to fall back on when life did a number on me. Ahhhhh ... college. Fond memories. (I wrote with a smile).

The best part is when they stay in touch for a while, letting us know how their new life is proceeding. It's always welcomed information. Sometimes enviable too.

Next week ... let's review the year and look ahead to summer, shall we?

Chuck Brooks is a teacher at Rosemount High School. His column appears every week