Tag Archives: high school

Coop Goes to High School Part 10 – School’s Out

schools-outAt the end of each previous school year, I was jubilant to have survived another “tour of duty” and be liberated, at least for the summer, from society’s schooling requirement imposed on my developmental path. Finally finishing my senior year, there was a measure of that usual relief, along with a sense that somehow the ball was now finally in my court. What to do next was no longer mandated, but up to me. As I walked that big impersonal marble hallway of Pioneer High School for my last time as a student, the nihilism (an ideology that I had learned in my Modern Russian History Class was very different than anarchism) of Alice Cooper’s hit song, “School’s Out”, resonated with every fibre of my being…

Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise
Cuz they found new toys
Well we can’t salute ya
Can’t find a flag
If that don’t suit ya
That’s a drag

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely

Continue reading →

Coop Goes to High School Part 9 – On My Own Terms

Me bottom row 2nd from the left and some of my JLO comrades
Me bottom row 2nd from the left and some of my JLO comrades
Living life on my own terms, at my own cadence, surrounded by those with whom I could share a sense of real collaboration and community, that’s what I wanted. Not some day in the future after I’d jumped through all society’s hoops and proven my worthiness to be a full-fledged adult, but now, January 1972, as I pondered what classes I would sign up for for my last semester of high school. There was so much going on, as George Harrison so elegantly called out in his song “Within You Without You”…

And the time will come when you see
we’re all one, and life flows on
within you and without you.

Continue reading →

Coop Goes to High School Part 8 – Starting Senior Year

JLO's 1972 production of Oliver! on the set I designed
JLO’s 1972 production of Oliver! on the set I designed
For the past eleven years, as my summer vacation waned each August, I would avoid for as long as possible thinking about having to go back to school. When that moment finally came and I had to focus on getting ready, I would prepare my tender psyche as best I could for all the new situations I would be thrown into and all the new people I would encounter who I did not know, and did not know me. The latter had always been particularly problematic for me, because I was shy and I hated being judged by other people, particularly people who I had not had the long time I typically needed to establish “diplomatic relations” with them. Those “diplomatic relations” involved the other person accepting and respecting me for all the aspects of myself that I had revealed and my doing the same for them. The more I could reveal over time the stronger the relationship became and the more I could relax and be myself. Any person I could not establish this sort of pact with I would avoid as best I could. School seemed always to be a problematic venue for my sort of interpersonal “diplomacy”.

Continue reading →

Coop Goes to High School Part 7 – Song & Dance

Me and my Ado Annie in Oklahoma
Me and my Ado Annie in Oklahoma
They say that the only two things you can be sure of in life are death and taxes.  But for most every kid, the one thing you can be sure of is going to school, which for me was a taxing and at times felt like a near-death experience.  For twelve straight years (I skipped kindergarten) , whether I liked it or not, whether it was the right place for me to develop myself or not, I reported dutifully in the fall and served until the next summer.  At this point I had spent the last eleven straight years dutifully reporting to my designated school facility each September and dreading it each and every time.

Continue reading →

Coop Goes to High School Part 5 – Behind the Lights

Stage LightsThe story picks up in November 1970 almost halfway through three years of high school, still recovering from having jilted my first girlfriend (and being too shy to even face her after that), and Smokey Robinson part of my current Greek chorus on the AM radio with his “Tears of a Clown”…

Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public
But when it comes down to fooling you
Now honey that’s quite a different subject
But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression

It reminded me that the persona I was putting out in the world was still mostly smoke and mirrors as well. That admitted, my Junior Light Opera youth theater group was opening up a new world of possibilities for me to define myself as a talented technician rather than just a lovelorn loser.

Just a quick note before we get into this segment… I’ve changed all the names of my friends to protect their privacy.

Continue reading →

Coop Goes to High School Part 4 – The Play’s the Thing

hairI returned from my summer in England just a week before school was to start for my junior year of high school, having missed my normal summer activities and been disconnected from my neighborhood friends for those ten weeks I had been gone, but also having undergone a personal transformation from my summer odyssey. I was still a shy kid, but I had a heightened sense of agency from partnering with my mom on our summer adventure in England. I was ready in this school year ahead to play a more active role charting my own course rather than just going with the flow of my school classes and current neighborhood social circle.

Continue reading →

Coop Goes to High School Part 2 – First Year

Pioneer HighContinuing from part one, this is part two in my attempt to recollect and record in writing my high school years which were so significant to me developmentally, not so much because of what I did in class, but what I did in my life beyond the schoolroom.

Pioneer high school was a big public high school with over 2000 students, one of two at the time in Ann Arbor, located on the southwest side of town about a mile and a half from my house. It was a sprawling building on an even bigger campus of lawn and parking lots looking more like a high-tech business campus than a typical high school. When I first entered to register for classes the week before school started the main hallway was broad and institutional with what I remember to be a polished formica or marble-like floor, nothing to give the place a sense of a human scale. The school was a string of buildings connected in an L-shape, maybe at least a quarter of a mile from one end to the other.

Continue reading →

The Soundtrack of my Life

My life has been lived to a soundtrack. Growing up in an age of ubiquitous car radios, restaurant juke boxes, record players and later stereos, it seems like the popular songs of the day were always playing in the background, over and over. Music affects us emotionally and can evoke strong feelings of all sorts in the listener. In my case it also became a sort of storage mechanism for a lot of those strong feelings.

Forty years later I can hear a pretty mundane pop song like Tommy Rowe’s “Dizzy”, which I heard constantly when I was in my junior high years and I can be overcome with the feelings of being that young teenage boy with a crush on a girl but afraid to tell her or even talk to her. Those sort of emotional memories stay with you and I believe shape you subconsciously.

Continue reading →

Considering If and When to Go to College

A year ago hedge fund manager and author James Altucher announced in a provocative piece for Yahoo Finance Tech Ticker, “Rethinking College as Student-Loan Burdens Rise”, that college, particularly right after high school, may not be a good investment for most students and their families that often are paying the bill. Says Altucher…

There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that motivated kids are going to make money whether or not they go to college… So teach your kids how to be motivated. Teach your kids how to sell a product, build a network of connections. That’s going to be far more valuable.

Continue reading →