by Eric Barr
What does homecoming at R-MA mean to me? Well this year will mark my 34th homecoming at R-MA. I find that hard to believe. I remember my first homecoming. I was assigned to work with the other new teachers in the dorm. Of course, we knew none of the alumni that returned that year (1982) so we were just killing time until the day was over. One of the most impressive things I remember about that first homecoming was the memorial service in front of Melton Gymnasium. I was not prepared for the “Died on the field of honor, sir!” responses that came, followed by the gun salute and Taps. I was standing near someone who obviously knew one of the alumni who had passed away in service to his country. It was very emotional and still is to this day. As the years passed, more and more alumni returning to “The Hill became familiar to me–although it took a while for them to be my actual students since I only taught grades 7-9 my first year.
To me the heart of homecoming is the parade and the football game. This is where everyone is gathered and catching up with old friends. There is something in the air you can notice. Plus there is a football game to watch! I like to watch the alumni walk past the bleachers (usually out of step). Even though I am anxious to see former students that day, I am still interested in what the current students are doing to include the game and the homecoming court announcements at halftime so I am dividing my time between the game and socializing. I usually gather with some old-timers who have worked with me at R-MA for a while. That way we can feed information off of each other and try to find out who is who. To be honest, it is very hard for me to remember the names of all the former students that I may encounter at homecoming. When I first came to R-MA, some of the older students had student ID numbers in the 900’s. Now the student numbers go to 13000!!! That is a lot of people who have passed through this school to keep up with. So if you see me, just come up and say hello and assume I don’t remember your name! It doesn’t mean that I don’t remember you. Also a nametag really helps. Keep in mind that I was probably your only math teacher your senior year but you were one of many students that I have taught. Plus you changed!! I am still 23 with more hair and less pounds. You went and grew up and became responsible and mature maybe even with kids!
I do like hearing about what you are up to. The success stories I have heard help make this job very rewarding. I have taught a pediatric surgeon, a medical researcher at Hopkins, a plastic surgeon, a dentist, a local news station producer, pilots, a wine maker, a rocket scientist for NASA, golf course superintendents, police officers, engineers, news anchors, consultants, lawyers, an Immigration and Customs Enforcer officer, a financial analyst, teachers, businessmen, photographers, a movie director, music producers, a furniture designer, many former and active members of the military and countless others (maybe even a White House party crasher). This list is far from comprehensive but still very impressive. I know that I didn’t have much to do with your success at all but it still gives me a great sense of pride to see how accomplished you have become with your career. Plus, don’t get me started on all the children you have had!! I knew you as a teenager and now you have teenagers. How is that possible? I have even taught a son of a former student!
So, if you see me this homecoming, come up and say hello. Don’t make me guess your name so wear a nametag and if you have children, introduce them to me and expect me to say something embarrassing from your past. Hope you can make it!!