Leadership retreat …
My high school held a three-day, off-site leadership retreat each year that was a really big deal. And when you were a rising senior, you could apply and interview for a spot on the highly coveted nine-member planning committee, which met as a class for the first semester of the school year. The committee did everything—picked the theme, organized all the days and presenters and then led the retreat during the weekend. I was selected, and that 2006 “Dive in!” retreat is one of my favorite school memories. I remember sleeping one hour a night but also having the most fun doing skits and senior serenades and leading my small group. (P.S. I’m in all the yellow because I’m repping my group’s color.)
My favorite memory of school was basketball. But, memory serves that it was so much more than a sport.
A tall and gawky guy, I played with varying levels of less than stellar success on teams at both a parochial grade school and public high school. But it was the days practicing and playing games for Coach O’Donnell’s team at St. Mary’s School in Canandaigua, New York, that I remember most fondly. Actually, we called him Mr. O’Donnell, out of respect. Certainly he deserved it.
Players and coaches and family members and fans all traveled in cars to get to games, and because of Mr. O’Donnell’s basketball tutelage, we managed to make it to parochial school tournaments at the end of the season nearly every year. But it is the memory of the greater lessons—both in athletics and life—that we learned from Mr. O’Donnell that I most cherish. He was more than a coach; he was a mentor and a role model, and he remains one for me to this day. (I’m the one in the back row wearing glasses.)
Smell of the cloakrooms …
My favorite school memory is one of the senses. Because my grade school was housed in an imposing, two-story, turn-of-the century brick building, it had “cloakrooms,” not lockers.
Because it practically had to be arctic before we were allowed to have indoor recess, winter meant that everyone’s coats got wet with snow. After we came indoors and hung them up, the cloakroom emitted a steam of wet wool.
It’s one of those sensory moments that instantly carries me back to a simpler, more innocent time. I’ll cherish it all my days.