Apparently I didn’t write in my blog for a couple of weeks. Huh! Weird.
As a result, friends both virtual (and non) have asked what I’ve been up to. Well, for one, I went to the Sundance film festival.* I’ve even included a dumb pic for you to laugh at
I’ve been there before, but this time was different. This go-round, owing to the sweet connections of a friend, we got real-live tickets and didn’t have to languish in standby lines. Basically we were VIP and, well, that warmed us up, even though it was bitterly cold out.
The movies still sucked — BUT– the people watching along main street was unparalleled. There were the usual celebrity seekers, teen girls wearing boots-with-the-fur (and very big sunglasses), PETA-backed-protesters and even a few people wearing gorilla masks to shield their identities. Truly epic. You still have a few days to experience the adventure for yourself.
* Maybe you’re surprised the event went on as planned? Maybe you heard gay activists predicting that no one would attend Sundance? Well, I’d like to report that there were plenty of people in attendance. It’s odd that gay people can’t shut down their own festival.
High school was an interesting experience for me, both because I found the social aspect of it irritating and because many of the teachers were world-class. More than ten years have passed since I graduated from American Fork High School, but my opinion on those two matters has not changed. I’ll not dwell on the social part — i was a huge nerd back before it was cool to be a nerd, so you can figure it out yourself. I will say a few things about the teachers.
Which teachers made a profound impact on my life? Sharron Allsop-Day. Rial Allen. Max Reese. Marty Monson. Christine Nehrer. Jay Allen. Scott Hendrickson.
Many of these teachers have retired or moved away from American Fork. Yesterday, I met up with two of them at Rial Allen’s 70th birthday party. Rial is a legend. He is an irascible, opinionated, rotund raconteur whose classes consisted of colorful history commentaries mixed in with raw political opinion and hilarious stories from his life. His philosophy was unique to history teachers– he didn’t focus on wars. Because of that, and because of the quality of his study guides, Rial had some of the highest AP test passing percentages in Utah.
Of course, Rial’s pugnacious demeanor won him equal shares of detractors and fans. In fact, yesterday, Rial admitted, with some boasting, that the school board (with prompting from angry students) had attempted to remove him on a few occasions. Fortunately, Rial’s AP record stood for itself, and he remained.
And then you have Max Reese, the somewhat quirky Biology teacher, whose classes were more often outside than inside. Like Rial, Max is retired. And like Rial, Max had a unique approach to pedagogy. Unlike other AP Biology teachers in the state, Max spent the better part of the first term requiring students to memorize the genus, species and family names of over a hundred leaves from trees around the school. This onerous task had nothing to (directly) do with the AP exam, but it served as a good filter to weed out the less enthusiastic students, while forcing our minds to work in high gear. I still remember many of the names to this day: picea pungens (blue spruce), elaeagnus angustifolia (russian olive), quercus gambelii (gambel oak)…
I’m grateful to these teachers for the hope they inspired, the imagination they ignited and the love of learning they helped instill. Oh, and for the college credit I got from passing the AP tests. Thank you!