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Around the Corner: Memories that last a lifetime

It has been over a quarter of a century since my final walk through the halls of my hometown high school as a student, but I remember it like it was yesterday. 

Every year I think about how many memories were made the final few months of my adolescent education, but this year they are much more poignant.

With my head full of wonders of what my niece and other members of the class of 2020 across the country are feeling while missing most of their final semester. I can only think of how my life would be different if I hadn’t experienced the pivotal moments that capped my K-12 education.

I really didn’t define myself as popular in high school; maybe I was or maybe I wasn’t, but I did hang out with the popular crowd. I was definitely not the star athlete. I did participate in varsity football, but to this day I joke when people asked me what position I played — left out. 

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I was quiet, and way more reserved than I am now — who am I kidding, I’m still reserved but I will actually strike up a conversation with a complete stranger now. 

We were a close-knit class, just in-between the size of the two Garfield School District Re-2 high schools with 143 graduates that year. Most of us had spent our entire school career together, with exception of a few Californians who joined the class along the way.

To this day I can strike up a conversation with a classmate, and it is like we were back in high school.

Something happened my senior year. I’m not sure if it was narrowly avoiding severe injury in a car accident in the fall or losing few classmates so close to the culmination of our pre college years.

It might have been the golf season that spring. As the sixth man on the golf team my score didn’t typically count when it came down to tallying the victor of the tournament.

With one ill-fated tantrum by a teammate and a tied score for team runner-up, I was thrust into the limelight for a playoff hole with the winner taking second place in our home invitational.

All I can say is it was the most nerve-wracking moment of my brief prep sports career. I compare it to watching a professional golf tournament when you see the crowd gathered around the tee box as Tiger Woods, Rory Mcllroy or Brooks Koepka drives a blistering shot straight down the fairway.

All I could think to myself is don’t shank it, don’t shank it — and to my delight I absolutely drilled my drive down the middle of the fairway. 

I can’t recollect how far the drive was, but I think it had to have been my farthest drive in my career to this date. That was all it took. I can barely remember the walk up the fairway with the mass of endorphins rushing through my nervous system.

I could tell you I nailed my second shot, but I would be lying. Remember all I was thinking on my tee shot? Well that came to fruition on shot number two — I shanked it so badly it almost hit one of my opponents. I try not to dwell on that shot. I like to remember the tee shot and the ability to get up and down from there to save par and help my team secure a runner-up finish.  

Whether it was the memorable spring sports season, our senior prank that took over 12 months to plan and execute, before partially coming unraveled after a classmates parents foiled a real estate listing of epic proportions, or just the moments and memories my classmates and I made those final few months that have lasted to this day and hopefully will remain with until my last breath. 

To the class of 2020 although your senior year ended abruptly and in an unorthodox fashion the memories you did make during your time at Rifle and Coal Ridge high schools will remain. Just think of the stories you can tell your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

kmills@postindependent.com


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