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Chuck Brooks: For one day, it was all about RHS

It's been nearly a week now since Rosemount High School celebrated its 100th anniversary. The excitement of the event has subsided. I thought I was done writing about this topic. However, after being at RHS for nearly 12 hours, I realized returning to the topic one final time was a must.

It was no secret how excited I was about this day arriving. As it approached, each day had more anticipation than the last. The night before I was giddy with thoughts of what might be. I was there for all those hours primarily because Andre and I were selling our books. However, I was hoping returning students would be many, and I looked forward to seeing them all. I had no idea, though, the way the day would unfold.

We set up shop in the Student Center as that was where the pancake breakfast occurred. It began at 8 a.m. and ended at 11 a.m. They did ticket pre-sales so they had an idea of how much food they'd need. Before breakfast was done, over 800 folks had come to eat. One individual showed up early, and she waited patiently for the servers to begin flipping the cakes. Slowly, the people began to roll into the center. The age range was large. This event did not draw to just any one group. Faces young and old were coming to eat. I recognized some while others were total strangers.

There was a man who arrived a little after breakfast began, and he was in the mood to talk. He told us he had never been a student in the present high school, but he was a student in the original building on the hill. He looked happy to be with us. The Student Center was adorned with memorabilia, student research projects on the school's history, and an area where people could watch a 41-minute loop of the DVD addressing the history of Rosemount High School. He was enjoying it all. I would see that same man six hours later, still there and still smiling and talking with so many. He seemed like someone who had found a place where he once belonged.

Around 9 that morning, a much beloved, long-since retired teacher arrived with two

friends with whom she had taught. They entered the front door, exchanged their tickets for paper plates, and began what would be an incredibly lengthy trek down the hall into the Student Center. This woman was RHS royalty. People knew her from teaching with her or being taught by her at some stage. People were taking pictures with her, of her, and reminiscing. The man I mentioned earlier shared a story about how she had taught his brother. Apparently she gave his brother an essay back with the comment, "This is your best work yet," and proceeded to give it an F. Classic story, but I totally understand how that's a legit situation. I was so happy for her. She was in her element, but she was also in a place to which she gave meaning. Her years in her role were as important as any years in the 100 we were celebrating. She began teaching on the hill and eventually moved into the present building when they opened.

As the day progressed, I saw former students and parents, one after another. I observed people responding to a building where they spent four years of their lives. I saw people admiring some of the building's changes as they had never returned after graduation night. Listening to people relive their memories was so very satisfying. People were truly happy to be back inside the walls of Rosemount High School. One had only to watch to know this to be true.

It would be about 3 p.m. when the emotion ramped up for me. A handful of adults appeared I hadn't seen or even thought of for years. One after another they appeared. Some were with their parents. Then, my first kids ever, the kids from the Class of 1986, arrived. There were probably a dozen or so. I began my teaching career with all ninth-grade classes. These were my first students. They're now looking 50 in the face. Seeing them together was something words can't describe. My heart was exploding with happiness. They even wanted to do a pic with their first RHS English teacher. And so we did. They were as special to me as any group I'd ever teach. They still are.

Sept. 16, 2017, will go down as Rosemount High School's best day ever. People were filled with pride and joy in returning to their school. For one day, many adults were once again young and in school. For one day, I was not a retired teacher. For one day, I was once again Mr. Brooks. For one day, nothing else seemed to matter. For one day, it was all about RHS.

If you were there, you'll never forget the day. I know I won't. Ever. On to the next 100!

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