While looking through my stacks of pictures, I realize
how important the memories in my all-school photos are to me. One particular picture, from ninth grade, is
especially significant not because I like to look at what my classmates or
teachers looked like, but because it reminds me of how much my life has changed
since the beginning of high school. For
years, school has been a part of almost everything I do and, except perhaps for
my parents, has shaped my future more than anything else. High school has not been the only cause of
change for me in the last three years, but it played a pivotal role. Not only did school teach me math, English,
and lots of other subjects, but it also changed my outlook on life in ways I
now realize aren’t immediately obvious, even to me.
When this picture was taken, the only real activity I did after school, other than homework and my own projects, was tutoring other students once a week. As with almost everything at my school at that time, the tutoring program was disorganized (the school was new then), but that didn’t matter, and I found it particularly enjoyable to know that I was helping other people. While I’ve never had problems with classes, it frustrates me to see others fail, and I like to help them whenever possible. To this day I still tutor students after school, and not only is the tutoring program better than it once was, but my tutoring skills have improved as well.
While I’ve continued with student tutoring, since my ninth grade picture was taken I’ve also expanded my horizons by starting an Electronics Club. For several years now I’ve wanted to start such a club because of my own interest in building gadgets, and because I thought other students might be interested too. My club has only had a few meetings, and only has a few members, but people are coming back for more, even though I don’t think I’ve been making the meetings as interesting as I could have. My hope is that I’ll not only be able to teach club members the basic theories behind electronic design, but also introduce them to my own interests, so that they’ll consider electronics not only as a hobby, but also as a possible career.
Of course, school is only part of life. While I may not immediately associate a school picture with what I’ve done outside of school, especially with my own interests, the principle of looking back to see what has changed still applies. For years, I’ve focused some of my own time on designing and building electronic devices. In ninth grade, I was still finishing what was, at the time, the most complex project I’d done, an odd radio-controlled device designed to fill the neighborhood water tank, which is useful at my house because I live beyond the reaches of the city water system. I personally never thought that the device worked too well, though the neighbors were impressed. Now, while I’m still working on plans for a better version, and while I realize that I have more experience now, I still look back and wonder, “Why did I do it that way?”
At the time the picture was taken, although I did projects for the neighborhood, I was not very involved with the greater community. Since then, I’ve realized that helping the community can be much more than simply fulfilling a school requirement. So, while history has never been my favorite subject, I decided to assist the docents at the local history museum both because I knew the museum needed help and because I really did want to know more about the history of where I live—an area on the central coast of California once dominated by loggers and short-lived boom towns. While working at a museum is not always entertaining, it is both fascinating to see the old photographs and rewarding to know that the history of the area will not be lost. Looking back through the binders of old photos is especially interesting because the pictures show how much has changed since the days of horses and buggies, just as my school picture shows how much has changed for me since the beginning of high school.
A picture is simply a snapshot of one instant, but a stack of pictures can, like a movie, describe the progression of my life. And, as I said before, I mainly look at these pictures not because I want to see what my friends or my teachers looked like then, but for the memories of what has happened and changed in my life since. When I consider the array of pictures as a whole, it becomes even clearer how much I’ve learned and changed, and on closer inspection, how much of this was because, directly or indirectly, of my generally excellent school experience.
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