I can list quite a few things that I've accomplished in my life that other people have said they were impressed with.
- I won 2nd place in a parish-wide spelling bee
- I was on the honor roll most of my school career
- I volunteered with the local fire department when I was a teenager
- I graduated from college in 3 years with a double major
- I helped start a youth ministry program at my church
- I got a Master's degree in Math
- I worked in weapons research, simulating explosions on supercomputers
I've done 2 things in my life that have really impressed *ME*. The second was that I gave birth to my first child with no drugs. (And third. But by then I knew I could do it. And almost the second, too, for the record. But I digress...)
The first is that I graduated from The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts - a residential high school for Louisiana's best and brightest high school juniors an seniors. And from what I understand, now sophomores as well. I consider myself extremely privileged to be a member of the 8th graduating class of the best high school in the country. I may be a little bit prejudiced about how great the school is, but not much.
If you see this recent Louisiana Public Broadcasting documentary about the school, you will begin to understand why I love this institution so much. I found this clip both thrilling and sad. It was fun to see my former teachers (one of whom was my advisor) in the video. It was very exciting to see my "junior", Environmentalist Josh Tickell, talk about his award-winning film. I was both happy and sad when I saw the dancers, and remembered the joys and pains of touring the state dancing for students in other schools.
I especially loved hearing one of my favorite teachers, Dr. D, talk about students whose "gifts cross disciplinary boundaries." That was me. I applied to the school for dance. I danced all 4 semesters there. But in the long run I probably benefitted more from the academic training, than the arts training I went there seeking. I had the opportunity to study Latin, something I'd wanted to learn since I was 8. I studied Chemistry and Physics, Trigonometry and Calculus, American and British Literature. Pascal. Economics. A semester-long course entirely on Shakespeare. Survey of the Arts. I studied a Lillian Hellman play as a work of literature, and at the same time was the stage manager for a production of the same play. I never even knew until "Mama T's" Algebra 3 (Algebra 2 in 1 semester) that I actually enjoyed Math, much less enjoyed it enough to study it for 6 years in college. (Okay, really 5.)
LSMSA was phenomenal! It gave me the self-confidence to be OK with being a "nerd." It gave me more preparation for the rigors of college academics than I needed, and allowed me to test out of most of my Freshman year. It gave me the best friends I've ever had. If it wasn't for attending LSMSA, I would not have the awesome husband I have, the wonderful kids I have, the most super-awesome (though fading) memories of a time and place so spectacular, inspirational, and educational, I can barely begin to describe it.
It was such an awesome place, I hated to leave it. I used to have aspirations of being the first alumni faculty member at the school. The locations of my husband's jobs, coupled with my desire to stay home with any kids we might have, didn't exactly make that possible. I'm sure someone has beaten me to it by now. I still check the job openings, though, every time I visit the school's home page. Maybe one day. When my kids are grown. If they'll have me.
This weekend, LSMSA will graduate it's 25th class. The school's new flags fly over the Church Street bridge. My "great-grand-seniors" in the class of 1989 will be celebrating their 20-year reunion. I wish I could be there. And I excitedly anticipate my husband's 20-year reunion, and (gasp!) my own!