I recently returned from my 35th high school reunion. Yes, I’m that old.

I like going to these reunions because I find it interesting to see how people have – or haven’t changed. The class clowns are still cracking jokes. The serious students still sit quietly and talk among themselves.

Reminiscing is always a big part of school reunions and I’ve noticed the memories aren’t always accurate. For example, at this last gathering one of my classmates made the comment that kids today are just not as respectful of their teachers as we were.

Then I reminded her of our ninth grade algebra class where the teacher had no control over the classroom. Kids talked, through paper or slept.

One day a student pulled out a cigarette lighter and held the flame beneath the long, blond hair of the girl sitting in front of him. We all turned to look when we smelled her hair burning. The teacher ordered the boy to go to the principal’s office, but he refused.

Today a kid caught with a lighter in school would be suspended, and if he dared to burn someone’s hair, he would be expelled. Oh, but the good ol’ days.

I have no idea what happened to that math teacher, but I’m pretty sure she got out of the teaching business.

I do know what happened to the students. Both of them were at the reunion and seemed to harbor no ill feelings. He was joking around and demanding someone play “Freebird.” The woman had managed to keep her long, blond hair even after all these years.


Liz Atwood is a former Baltimore Sun features editor who teaches journalism at Hood College. She is the mother of two sons, ages 12 and 16.