I feel so lucky to be in high-school for this extra time…one more semester to go. I know kids often rebel at the idea of staying in school longer, thinking it’s a negative thing, worried that they’ll stick out as an older student, but I don’t agree. I think it’s a matter of attitude: since I am so happy to be at school, the people around me are happy to have me there, regardless of my age. I can choose extra classes that interest me – I’m building life-long fitness habits in PE, exploring pottery, art, and cooking, singing in choirs, and taking a reasonable (for me) number of academics.
Going to school dances more often is a happy thing too. In April, I went to prom for the third time, with one of my very dear friends, and for the invitation, I surprised her with a life-sized goldfinch paper-sculpture. I put the sunny bird in a golden house amongst curly wood shavings, with a special poem attached: I hear the goldfinch and then I try / To imagine the world from a bird’s eye, / All through the evening, dance with aplomb, / Following dinner, let’s go to the prom! We joined a big group of choir/theater friends for dinner, and the whole evening was so fun and relaxed. I loved being at the Denver natural history museum for the dance – we even got to view some exhibits!
Best of all, being at school longer means there’s extra time for singing in the best groups imaginable (Madrigals and Festival Choir), plus more opportunities for my a capella quartet. We sang My Girl (by Smokey Robinson) at the May concert; it’s such an upbeat, happy tune that we were smiling the whole time! Then tears – the seniors crying because it’s hard to move on from the intensity and friendship that builds through performing together; everyone feels it went by too fast – in the blink of an eye. I had that bittersweet lump-in-the-throat – I’ll be missing many friends – but I’m still looking forward to experiencing the energy and connection of choir for one more semester.
And finally, there’s the benefit of repetition –that’s a big deal because of my autism. This year, I retook World History- not because I had to, but because I wanted to get more out of the class. I especially wanted to understand more about WWII because all four of my grandparents were growing up in Europe when the Holocaust happened. One thing I felt compelled to share with my class: an unbelievably beautiful and powerful choral piece called, Even When He Is Silent (by Kim André Arnesen). The text was found in a concentration camp: I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining. / I believe in love, even when I feel it not. / I believe in God, even when He is silent.
Listening, I feel I’m floating to heaven, and at the same time, I want to cry. My heart is touched that something so beautiful can come out of such horror. The same is true of a play I performed in during middle school called, I Never Saw Another Butterfly (by Celeste Raspanti). It’s based on a collection of poems and writings by children interred at Theresienstadt, one of the horrible concentration camps. If you ever get a chance, try to see this play.