Students—Past, Present, Future and Forever

Published 1:56 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2016

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

My Competitive Writing class is a small group of juniors and seniors writing for scholarships and publication.

When students are published, they truly take ownership of their writing.

The Class of '16 celebrates as graduation draws near. (Contributed)

The Class of ’16 celebrates as graduation draws near. (Contributed)

Their writing becomes very polished—acquiring the qualities that make their essays win scholarship competitions.

“Mama Nolen, how am I going to manage without you next year?” Danielle Sanders asked in class last week. “I’m going to have questions—and you’re not going to be there to answer.”

I’m not sure how we shifted from Mrs. Nolen to Mama Nolen, but many kids tell me I’m their school mom. Every student should have a school mom—or dad—someone who is a safe place, an anchor, a mentor. There are many other school moms at PHS—like Keri Ross.

“Today was the PHS senior luncheon,” Keri Ross posted online. “This is the beginning of good-bye.” She’s right. Every graduation feels like the hardest good-bye.

“Maybe I will Facetime you,” Sanders said. “Do you Facetime?”

“Danielle, someone else is going to be there to answer and to ask thought-provoking questions.”

“What if I don’t have another teacher who gets me like you do?” Sanders asks—and the mood shifts. She is serious now. Each of these kids has the same question. Perhaps they’re thinking about another PHS teacher, but they feel that they’re about to leave something special behind.

“Then you just ask me Danielle, and in your head, you’ll hear me tell you to ‘Google everything’ or ‘right-click.’ You’ve heard my lessons enough that they’re a part of you now. Besides, that former student of mine who was just elected judge—I taught her over 20 years ago—and we’re still in touch. I’m pretty hard to leave behind. You know how persistent I can be!”

All of the kids laugh—even Danielle. Giving our students the skills to soar is what we do. The Class of 2016 prepares for take-off.