Auditions at the end of last year determine band placement for this year. The pinnacle of musical accomplishment at Stevenson High School in the late nineties was admission into Honor Band. I don’t make Honor Band. I cry for days. Mostly, though, I’m embarrassed. My group of friends is incredibly talented. They have been in Honor Band for years without me. I’ve always known that my flute playing was mediocre, but this is public confirmation.
With Fall’s arrival, we are all applying to college. I have no real interest in college because I hate the thought of my close group of friends spreading across the country. I hate the unknown. I apply for college without great enthusiasm. I’m admitted to the College of Business at the University of Illinois and notified in early October. Knowing that this is the logical next step – the top school for accounting at in-state tuition rates – takes the pressure off of needing to apply elsewhere. I do, but just for show.
I audition for Fiddler on the Roof and I make it. Years of neutral smiles at auditions fade to memory as this musical becomes the most important thing I’ve ever done.
I develop an interest in politics. My government teacher encourages us to sign up to be Election Judges for the presidential election coming in the Fall of 2000. In Illinois, you can be a judge in the primary even if you are 17 so long as you turn 18 before the big race. I’m in. I help Lake County citizens cast their votes at a grade school in Glenview and earn $125. I feel quite wealthy.
Later, for a presentation in Comparative Government, I arrange God Save the Queen for two flutes and perform it with my friend Jess.
In late March, my family goes on an amazing trip with a group from our church. We travel through Egypt, Israel, and Italy tracing the Old and New Testaments. I get to touch the Pyramids, visit Bethlehem, and and stand where Charlemagne was crowned Emperor in Rome. A picture of my family riding camels will grace our Christmas cards that following December.
St. Helena is far more popular in that region than anywhere I’ve been before. I insist on getting my picture taken in front of every convent and statue I can find bearing our shared moniker.
Shortly after my return to school, the band, choir, and orchestra go to Disney World to perform. The band will be marching in a parade on Main Street. The trip is amazing and confirms for me that I have the best friends ever. I don’t want high school to end.
(Read about other grades here).