I was fortunate to have had a good high school experience. I did not realize how fortunate until later, when I talked to others who did not share similar fond memories of their high school days.
I was part of the GATE program at a time when geek was not so chic. However, there were a lot of us. It was a big high school and the GATE kids were almost a school within a school. We were nerds, but we didn’t care because so was everyone else around us. We had most of our classes together and had each other’s backs.
After high school we went our separate ways, going to different colleges, living different lives. Some of us stayed in touch, but mostly we drifted apart. Our 20th year reunion was 5 years ago. For me, it was the first time that I had heard from or seen from some of my former classmates. We even had our own separate GATE reunion at a local park so everyone could bring their kids and spouses.
Then Facebook became popular and we became, at least virtually, part of each other’s daily existence. This year we had a GATE Geek 25th reunion, hosted at a classmate’s house. Former teachers were tracked down and invited. It was a wonderful evening, spent with people who still are some of the kindest and smartest people I have known. I think my experience in high school with the GATE kids is part of the reason I love working at a University. My colleagues remind me of these kids in their geekiness, charm and kindness.