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Finding grace and kindness across the tracks page 2

Date published: 9/12/2013


I recall a line in the last Indiana Jones movie--"We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away." Fortieth high school anniversaries seem to signify that time in life. Life took away my best friend growing up, Billy Perkins, last year. It also took a middle school teacher named Napoleon Harper. He taught math but always reminded me of a movie star (actually TV star--the Pete Dixon character for those old enough to remember "Room 222"). He somehow maintained calm amid a mass of not-quite-controllable 13- and 14-year-olds and genuinely cared about whether you learned what he worked so hard to teach. He even had me believing I liked geometry. When Mr. Harper passed away, I was sad at first but then smiled at the memories that, through the strength of his kindness and character and of many, many others, remained intact after more than 40 years.

Forty years gone by cannot erase memories of a group of teachers and students who met a difficult situation with such grace that we all benefited, for the rest of our lives.

So I borrow from my daughter's favorite movie, hoping we can proclaim "Remember the Trojans" to commemorate a very special time in our lives. (And, alas, while accepting that the "Trojans" are now the "Tigers.")

J. Stanley "Stan" Payne was student council president of the first class of the Fredericksburg Middle School. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Max Klotz of Fredericksburg.

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