I’m going to look at the next sentence I type and feel really, really old.
I graduated high school 20 years ago today. Man, that makes me feel old. I went to my 10-year reunion, well, a decade ago, and there was a 20-year reunion going on at the same time and same place and I thought, “Man, those fools are old.” Now, I’m that fool. Wow does time go quick.
20 years. June 18, 1992. El Toro High School in Lake Forest, California. I graduated. Barely.
I had a 2.5 grade-point average in my junior year (if you add both semesters together). I had a 1.83 in the fall and a 0.67 in the spring. Four Fs (English, math, science, history), a D-minus (Spanish) and a B-minus (autoshop) during that second semester. How do you only get a B-minus in autoshop? Heck, how do you get an F in English and a D-minus in Spanish if English is the language you know how to speak?
At the end of my junior year, one day of finals I had math in the morning and science after snack. I knew I was going to fail both classes, but if I skipped them, I would have gotten a Saturday school in the fall. So I brought a portable TV and my Sega Genesis in a duffle bag. Yes, Sega Genesis — I’m old. I forgot to bring the game controllers to school, so during the math final, so all I could do was watch TV after I finished my test. I tuned into The Price Is Right, apparently the only math I could handle at that point. I went home and got my controllers at snack.
I asked my science teacher a few days before the final if she’d pass me with a D-minus if I got every single question right on the exam. I only had about a 40 percent in the class and she told me no, I didn’t have enough points and regardless of how I did, I was going to get an F and I’d have to make up the class. So after she handed out the scantrons, I bubbled the whole thing in with Bs before she even handed out the tests. I handed it over, set up my Sega and played video games for a couple of hours. As other kids in the class finished, I let them play against me. The teacher didn’t mind as long as we weren’t too rambunctious or disruptive.
I took summer school after my junior year, re-taking the English 3 class I failed both semesters during the previous academic year. Summer school isn’t hard. You show up in flip-flops and shorts and you’re free to play for the rest of the day by about noon. There’s only one class to focus on. For the first progress report that summer, I got a C-minus. Amazingly, that was the first report card I had in all of high school that didn’t have at least one D or F on it. With eight report cards a year, it only took me 25 tries.
Somehow, I ended up on the honor roll the first semester of my senior year. It was a pretty remarkable achievement considering that while most 12th-graders were taking only five classes, I took eight, making up previous Fs so I can graduate. I guess, in hindsight, it’s not a big deal to get an A in freshman science when you’re a senior. Still, I was shocked to get that honor roll certificate presented to me in class, almost to the point that I was embarrassed. I’ll never forget one of my classmates having to reassure me that there was nothing wrong with getting good grades.
The last semester of my senior year, I needed nine classes to finish up. While most seniors went with five classes, either from 7 – 12:30, 8 – 2 or 9 – 3, I had seven during the day, from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., then went to night school twice a week (plus a third time for half the semester). I was pathetic.
I almost failed accounting and didn’t graduate. I would have had a tough time explaining that one to my dad, who had been a CPA for about 25 years at that point. I had to walk around and get all my teachers to sign off that I had passed my classes, otherwise they wouldn’t let me walk for the ceremony. My mom was flying out from North Carolina and would have ripped my head off if I didn’t make it through. I think she has about four college degrees and a few of those are masters degrees. Not graduating high school would have been a death sentence.
I had an art class where we had a grading scale where you got 1 point for a D-minus, 2 for a D, all the way up to 15 or 16 for an A-plus. We had about seven or eight projects in the class, so I knew that once I had 10 or so points accumulated for my projects, I was good to coast. And that’s what I did. I only turned in maybe 3 or 4 of the projects and got a few Cs and Ds, which gave me (according to my calculations) enough points for a D-minus for the semester. The teacher gave me an F, though. She was so irritated by me and my work ethic that she insisted on failing me even though technically I had enough points. She basically laughed and told me to enjoy my summer after 12th grade in high school summer school and that she’d fight that all the way to the principal.
But then she looked at her teaching schedule and saw that I’d be in her class. She didn’t want to have me again and not surprisingly had a change of heart. She gave me the D and congratulating me on barely getting through high school. That was the 9th signature I needed. I’ll never forget that moment. I escaped El Toro High School. Man, was I a terrible student. With a 2.03 grade-point average, I had done well enough to don my blue robe. I walked with my class, graduating 461st out of 477.
I applied myself in college. I knew it was now or never and I got it done. I’ve always wished I had a stronger work ethic before college — surely the guy who worked full time as a web developer and took care of a family while running 61 marathons in a single year to raise money for charity could have done better than a 2.03 in high school. However, on day one of my third year at my community college, I met my wife.
Yes, I spent three years at a two-year college. I could have been out of there after two years, because I did well and had enough hours and a high enough GPA to get to where I wanted to go (and eventually went), Kansas State University. But it took me a year to mail off my application after I filled it out. I know, shocking, especially considering how on top of things I was in high school. I only picked up five transferrable hours that third year at my two-year college. But I did pick up my wife. So not all was lost.
So, while I shake my head and laugh about my teenage years, I never question the path I’ve taken because I’m exactly where I’m supposed to me.
But anyways, I made it through with the class of 1992. 20 years ago today. Barely.
What were you up to 20 years ago? Were your high school years as forgettable as mine?