High School Memories (Has it really been 20 years?)

14 08 2010
William Horlick High School, Racine WI

William Horlick High School, Racine WI

This post is dedicated to my 20-year high school reunion that is occurring right now, 550 miles away.  I truly wish I could have gone, but fate would not allow the trip.  I’m thankful I’ve been able to reconnect with a few high school classmates via Facebook, but I’d sure like to see them in person.  Actually, I’d like for them to see me.  I am a very different person now than I was 20 years ago.  But this post is not about how I’ve changed over the decades.  It is a random collection of memories from my time at William Horlick High School in Racine, Wisconsin. 

Freshman English with Mr. Kelly.  His weekly quizzes were always five questions with one bonus question.  The bonus question would be something like:  What color socks was John wearing in the second paragraph on page 37?  Somehow, I almost always got his bonus questions right.  I’m not sure what that says about me, but I really enjoyed his class.  And his mustache.

One of the most feared classes in high schools across America:  Physical Education.  I really had nothing to fear.  I wasn’t overweight.  I was a competitive gymnast.  I was fairly coordinated.  But still, it was PE.  All freshmen were required to take one unit of swimming.  I never signed up for it, and up until my senior year, I was always waiting for someone to tell me I had to take PE over because I hadn’t met the swimming requirement.  Thankfully, that never happened.

Riflery was probably my favorite PE unit.  The shooting range was in the basement of the main building, with a low ceiling and exposed pipes.  We could only shoot in the prone position.  I did pretty well.  That I can recall, that class was the last time I ever shot a gun.

Fencing and ping pong with Ms. Rush.  She had an eternal tan as well as the wrinkles to show that she spent way too much time in the tanning salon.  She was the only PE teacher who actually made us learn something about the sport we were practicing.  She gave us quizzes and a final exam on the history of the sport, scoring, the rules, etc.  Of course, I remember none of it now.

Duct taped "golf" ball

Duct taped "golf" ball (Mine was closer to the size of a grapefruit.)

Golf.  We weren’t allowed to use real golf balls since our “course” was the front and side lawn of the school property.  The coaches didn’t want any broken windows, so we had to make our own “balls.”  We each got a sheet or two of newspaper to crumple up as tightly and compactly as possible, ideally down to the size of a golf ball.  Then we duct taped it.  Needless to say, my “golf ball” was the size of a grapefruit and traveled a maximum of two feet regardless of how hard I hit it.

Spanish with Señora Christianson, four years in a row.  She began every class with “Pon tú chicle in la basura.”  I went on to minor in Spanish in college, but this is the one phrase that has stuck with me over the decades. 

Lunch, especially on Wednesdays—pizza day!  Ahhh, those soggy crust pizza rectangles with the large scoop of gooey rice pilaf on the side.  I would love to eat this just one more time to see what my adult taste buds would think.  Twenty years ago, this was my favorite meal each week.  Every other day of the week, I would have a plain hamburger with French fries.

Study hall first period senior year.  I remember getting permission to come to school late since I had study hall first period, and I was on the honor roll.  I never took advantage of that though, despite the 7:15 a.m. start time.  Study hall was held in the cafeteria, and the girl who sat across from me had just had a baby.  I remember being amazed that she was trying to finish high school.  I also remember being secretly thankful I was not her.

Sophomore year chemistry.  I loved balancing chemical equations, but I hated the labs.  The only lab I remember is the one that went horribly wrong.  Let’s just say it ended with the rubber stop on our beaker blowing off and shooting across the room and out the window.  Thankfully, our teacher had stepped out of the room, and thankfully the window was open.  Fate was on my side that day.  My lab partner and I did learn that a gas was created when we mixed the two chemicals together in the beaker.

Chemical Equation
I actually enjoyed balancing equations, but I wouldn’t consider myself a science geek by any means. I also loved diagraming sentences in elementary school. I would use different colors for the different parts of speech. I’m much more of a grammar geek than a science geek.

  My favorite class ever in high school as well as college:  Choir.  My memories of choir could be an entire post itself, so here’s the abbreviated version.
Horlick Madrigal Dinner, 1990

I am in the blue/white jester costume sitting on the far right of the front step.

Madrigals.  Eating right off the roast suckling pig in the kitchen.  Crying every night during “Verbum Caro.”  Wondering how many keys the priest would wander in and out of during his song.  So many more . . .

Czechoslovakia.  My first trip over the Atlantic.  My camera breaking right after we got off the plane.  Our host family presenting an interesting egg-rice dish for dinner, and Heidi and I later chowing down on chocolate bars in bed because we were so hungry.  Being hit on by some drunk guys in the subway, and our host student speaking to them in Russian to confuse them.  Our farewell party where just about everyone, including the chaperones, got drunk.  (I did not imbibe.)  So many more. . .

There were many “firsts” during those four years at Horlick. 

  • My first boyfriend (and kiss.)
  • The first person I knew to commit suicide.
  • The first time I “skipped” a class (though unintentionally.)
  • My first (and last) progress report from a teacher (sophomore history).  Progress reports were only sent home if a student wasn’t doing well.  For me, that was getting a C.  I forged my mom’s signature and brought my grade up in part by staying awake during the oppressively dull films the teacher showed–the kind where the cassette tape beeped, and you had to click the remote to move to the next frame.
  • My first time competing in any kind of sport—gymnastics.
  • My first car, an AMC Eagle Station wagon.  I managed to get three flat tires at the same time, and I ruined the rim of one tire trying to make it to my friend’s house.  My dad was not happy with me.

    AMC Eagle Station Wagon

    Not my original car, but a close doppleganger. I drove it to school every chance I got, though we only lived three blocks away. In the time it took me to drive to school, find a place to park, and then get to class, I could have walked from home in less time. But it was still cool to be able to drive myself to school.

Overall, I had a blast in high school, especially my senior year.  I don’t remember a lot the facts and academic knowledge I was taught.  The things I remember are far more important, especially the power of encouragement and influence. 

As a teacher myself, I realize full well the influence I have over my students, positively and negatively.  I think back to those teachers whom I couldn’t stand:  my junior physics teacher who talked to the chalkboard or my junior English teacher whom no one liked, and I do not want to be remembered in that light.  I want to be remembered the way I remember Mr. Pavao; the one teacher who took some time to encourage me to stick with something I loved and that has blessed me many times over in the past two decades.





6 responses

17 08 2010
home business

Thanks for the nice information.

20 08 2010
work at home

Keep us updated about this I would like to hear more on this topic!

30 09 2011
Kat Skull

I graduated in 2005 from Horlick and I’ve heard about the shooting range, but I’ve never seen it and it wasn’t in use when I was there. I can’t google anything on the topic either! Do you know more about the subject?


30 09 2011

Kat, I know nothing about the shooting range except for my brief experience in the class. I have no idea if it still exists today. I think it was in a basement under the original building. For some reason I remember using an outside entrance to get there, but I could be making that up. I remember it had very low, open ceilings, and you could see the pipes. It reminded me of a boiler room. I don’t remember much else. (PS Thanks for reading!)

30 09 2011
Kat Skull

I was listening to 102.1 radio station and they were making fun of Sheboygan for closing a middle school gun range because the parents were afraid of lead poisoning (not guns). It made me think about Horlick and I googled and found you!

I’ll have to check out the library archives on it then!

18 11 2017
David Nowack

I heard that Mr Kelly passed away back in 2004. What a loss. Said an awesome teacher and loved that mustache!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: