Tater cartoon for 6-9-21 Class of 21 farewell

I want to give one more shout-out to the graduating Class of ‘21, with sincere encouragement for them to apply what they’ve learned as best as possible, so they might achieve their goals and dreams.

And never stop learning!

That brings me to what I want to say today. We never do stop learning, though we learn some stuff the hard way and sometimes have to relearn what we should’ve retained in the first place.

We’re all guilty, so I’m in good company.

During the various classes we had in school, if you can remember back that far, the curriculum for each was to impart an understanding of the subject. And the subjects were varied to give us a well-rounded education so we’d know a little about most everything and be better-equipped to face the world and our future.

I did all that and, since those days, have come to the realization that there are variations of the subjects we studied that we will encounter and deal with as we reach middle age and beyond.

See if you agree.

For example, Facebook and texting have made me extremely aware of the importance of spelling, punctuation and grammar. I’ve gotten by my entire adult life without ever having to diagram a sentence like we were taught, but who knew that today we’d be living in a world where it matters not how simply and incorrectly you express yourself via electronic communications? Acronyms rule, while synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms have been kicked to the curb out of the need for brevity and to look cool. Now it’s up to us old folks to crack the code of BTW, IKR, TTYL and so on.

Physical education (P.E.) taught me that exercise is important and that jumping jacks are also called side-straddle hops. We became more aware of our personal hygiene because we’d wear the same “dress outs” — T-shirts, cut-off jeans, and tennis shoes — all week long, rolled up and stashed in our lockers, sweat and all. Oh yeah, and we learned real fast not to get caught in a wet rat-tail towel fight while naked in the communal showers.

I’ve showered alone since those traumatizing teen years, and now the most exercise I get is fighting with jar lids that seem to be getting tighter and tighter as I age.

Math was and still is a struggle for me. I contended that I had enough personal problems of my own without being issued a textbook filled with hypothetical ones. To me, math books were scarier than any Stephen King book, but looking at the crazy world we live in now, I truly wish all the problems could be confined to the pages of a book. I never cared how many apples Little Johnny would have left if Little Susie ate three of his, nor if Y ever found his X. My phone has a calculator, so bring it on!

Science taught me to be curious. I’ve never had to deal with photosynthesis or dissect a frog since graduating, but as a science fair project I wish I could’ve used an experiment that I did years later — throwing bullets in a campfire and waiting to see how long it took before they went off. I did random stuff like that and somehow survived, and I understand now how curiosity could kill the cat.

The ringing of the school bell taught me that yes, you can make it from the gym, all the way to the top floor of a three-story schoolhouse while dodging students across campus, dashing by your locker for a book, and making sure you didn’t go up the down staircase, and be in your seat as the tardy bell was screaming at you.

These days, I do good to struggle out of my easy chair and get to the phone before it stops ringing. I could’ve been an Olympian back in the day, I think.

I learned the hard way not to pass notes in class. You know the drill. The teacher catches you, confiscates the note, and then reads it aloud to the rest of the class. And the note never contained anything relevant to what was being taught. Just stuff like “Do you want to go to the swimming hole after school?” or “Do you like me: check ‘yes’ or ‘no’.” That’s as humorous today as it was mortifying back then.

Lunch time in the cafeteria taught me to double check the salt and pepper shakers to make sure someone hadn’t loosened the lids as a prank. The same went for those squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard that we used to try to mask the flavor of the mystery meats. Today I wipe the shakers and bottles off with a napkin to thwart COVID cooties. And yes, I sometimes check the lids out of habit and longstanding paranoia.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Hopefully you’ve learned how important education is and that over your lifetime you’ll be passing along the good and important stuff to your children and grandchildren. Make sure it’s fun for them, and please don’t share my science experiment with them!

Go get ‘em, Class of ‘21, we’re very proud of you.


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