Sean Palmer


Whenever you move up into another level of schooling, everything seems to transform. When your school environment expands two-fold, change is inevitable. At the end of middle school, I was part of a rather closely-knit group of friends. By the beginning of high school, the group had dispersed, forming or joining new groups with kids from other schools. Often times with groups of friends, there will be a few who are dedicated to keeping everything the way it is and always has been. But most will eventually be tempted to change pace. My closest friend and I remained as one of the last remnants of what was once a classic line-up. With a much vaster student body also comes a larger school with more classes. This makes it increasingly difficult to keep an old group together. Everyone is scattered into different areas, surrounded by interesting new people and lifestyles. And thus choices are made and people transform more often than not. The unfortunate aspect of this transition is that there will always be sadness and dissatisfaction (even if subtle) with those who've not dispersed. You no longer have a good grasp on their goings-on. I felt some sadness with the initial dispersal of my friends but not all too much since I still had my best friend. We remained a dynamic duo of sorts, once even asked if we were siblings to our amusement. Things were still golden since we still had class and lunch together. Then sophomore year came and we fell apart. Things haven't been the same since.

For me, the transition was gradual since I'd picked up a love interest at around the same time we began losing contact. Perhaps it was more pervasive for him, I'm not sure. But by the end of sophomore year, he and I had almost completely lost touch, as she and I became closer. The details of that Romantic (capital "R") episode would only hinder this memoir, so I will simply say that my high school life fell into a bizarre madness as a result.

Over the years, I've kept in touch on and off with those from the old clan, but things have never been anything like before and probably will never be. However, I can say that senior year has brought my social past into close perspective as everyone rushes about for senior get-togethers and college planning. I have taken the role of observer and am thus faced with reminiscence of long lost events. The real problem for those like me who may want to retain certain close friendships is that during the process of high school, people begin forming new identities as they archive older ones. The same people I may have shared years of happiness with are becoming steadily more unknown to me. And ironically, I have become even more unknown to them. I say ironically because I am the only member of the original group not to stray into any others.

Once I lost my best friend to the current, I never found my way into any other gatherings. But this is why I've changed the most out of any of the others. I've not let peers close enough to influence me in the same way. I've developed on the outside. In a very true sense, I've been hibernating while all others frollick in the woods. Upon returning, I've found the same people as before, but with different masks on. With these masks, they feel free to play new parts which their close peers have assigned them. And perhaps this is for the better in some cases, for the worst in others. As for me, I will never be able to stay grounded in the old world again without the aid of a mental shift. At default, I simply float away towards newer worlds and older ones which I can't help but be intrigued by. But the sadness is there for now. My best friend was swept out into the lake, and we may never walk the same trail again. Perhaps I should have tried harder to keep him from falling in, and from time to time, I regret leaving him under the guidance of another, but he and I have become what we are and I, for one, find complete satisfaction in this monster.

As an observer during this high school journey, I've found that as the world stands, it is better to have enemies than friends. For that means you have avoided most traps set out, and thus have offended those who have fallen in theme. Once you have discovered the ability, pull them out. But until then, do only as you can without great hindrance. Well, that's not completely true. In fact, I'm finding memoir writing to be one of the most difficult tasks I've had this entire school year. Over the past week I've found myself sitting down for an hour at a time staring at a sheet of paper with fifty layers of a million memories swirling around in my head and I couldn't find a place to start. Too much has happened to me over the course of my "high school career" to write about in anything less than an autobiographical book. The problem is that 99% of them have nothing to do with school. Sure, I've had some fun times in school and in class, but they're extremely minor events which I can only remember vague details about. But since this memoir should probably span more than 3 or 4 pages, I guess I can write about some of the things that stick out to me the most.

Of all the classes I've taken both at Skyline and at BCC for Running Start, the block classes I took between freshman and junior year are by far the most embedded in my mind. I suppose this is due to the fact that they were the only core curriculum classes I was taking in which my peers were in my grade. I've always been in advanced Math classes and thus took Chemistry early, and so for mathematical subjects I was surrounded by older students. In addition, I took Studio Arts 1 and 2 during my freshman year, moving into IB Art during my sophomore year; another class in which my peers were older. Not that I have a problem with being in classes with older students, but there's a natural awkwardness, at least in my case, and so such classes tend to become 95% academic 5% enjoyable.

Anyway, freshman year block was quite a wonderful experience. That was the last year in which I was still really part of the class of 2006. I really do miss Mr. McMahon and Ms. Young as I was on quite good terms with both of them. I always remember an instance in class where Mr. McMahon came over to my desk, crouched down, and told me that he was worried that I would end up in some bad situation apparently because I wasn't making much of an effort in class but he knew I had potential. As for Ms. Young, I still regret hesitating to raise my hand when she was asking if anyone knew of a certain country she was referring to. It was Bali, and just the summer before I had decided that Bali was one of my number one traveling destinations. At the moment, that year is very much a blur to me, which fragments of clarity...activities, meeting people, conversations, etc.

During sophomore year, I had Ms. McCombs and Ms. Schuermer (now Heidergott). Probably what most sticks out to me of that year was when Ms. Schuermer almost got hit in the eye with a piece of candy. I also fondly remember an activity we never finished in which we all represented different countries which were each assigned a letter and basic description. My group was "G" and we didn't have any food but had lots of diamonds so I made a poster which depicted a bowl of diamonds instead of cereal and a hand with a spoonful and at the top it said something along the lines of "They're all we have to eat." Yes, that was fun. And my frustration when I tried to depict the black plague on the whiteboard by drawing a skull and coloring it black.

Being that it is the most recent block class I've taken, the memories come faster to me from junior year with Mr. Rosemont and Mr. Bede. My first memory of that class was of either Mr. Rosemont or Mr. Bede asking me if I was sure I was in the right class. I think what had happened was I missed the first day, and the second day I just appeared at my own table. That was just before I began wearing the signature hooded outfit and most probably don't recall. Probably the most significant memory I have of that class is of an activity we did where we would raise our hands if we would feel bad after doing certain sinful activities. I shook the class up quite a bit as I raised my hand for "wouldn't feel bad at all" on every activity except rape. Of course, during my freshman and sophomore years, I was satisfied with simply being under the radar. But by junior year, there were too many things going through my head and I couldn't take it anymore.

My mind is flooded with memories and ideas for topics I could write about here, but I think it best to end this memoir with a recollection of the donkey basketball campaign; for, that signified the final collapse of my under the radar high school identity.

I had seen the flyers up for a few months, "Donkey Basketball. Coming soon", but they bore no real significance at the time. I simply thought it was some kind of strange activity which was somehow fittingly described in such a way. I didn't think that they literally meant people rode donkeys and shot basketballs. But one day, while I was leaving an Amnesty meeting, I noticed that there were new flyers describing the actual activity. To my surprise and disgust, "Donkey Basketball" was just as it sounded. In addition, I couldn't believe no one was saying anything about it. I had to do something, and there was only a week until it was going down. So, that night I went home and did some research on the PETA website. I found that schools in the past had gotten the activity cancelled being that it was animal cruelty. So I sent an email to PETA informing them about what was going to be happening at Skyline and made some simple flyers that said "BOYCOTT DONKEY BASKETBALL!" and gave some basic details about why it was animal cruelty. The next day, I stayed after school to put up my flyers. I had to be discrete though because I knew I would never get them approved. After sneaking around the halls for a while, and seeing suspicious-looking staff members walking by with papers in their hands, I had come down to my last few flyers. As I was taping one to a door, a woman yelled at me and told me I couldn't do that. At the same time, a boy had stopped with a grin on his face watching what I had been doing. Well, I got caught, and the lady made me give her the remaining flyers and tell her my name. Fortunately, after all this, I didn't get in trouble and a friend of mine who was leaving school late, had seen one of my flyers and taken a picture of it with his digital camera. He later became my partner in spreading word about the campaign and I was amazed at the response. I couldn't believe that teachers even were getting involved and eventually PETA sent a letter to the Superintendant about it. And I had no idea Ben Cote was campaigning just around the same time as me, but in a much more formal and authorized way. The event was canceled and even picked up some news coverage (TV and newspaper). That was probably the most important lesson I learned throughout my high school career. The countercultural spirit can be found even in the dreariest cultural wastelands.