Sixty things I learned at Reseda High School

Reseda High School Front Entrance
This year, Reseda High School is celebrating its 60th anniversary. On my website, I’ve shared a number of the lessons I’ve learned at this school. For this list, I picked the 60 most important. Although they pertain to my time there in the late 1970s, they apply equally to high school students today and to all of us throughout our lives.

Here is what I learned…

  1. A school needs a prominent front entrance. It should welcome you and remind you that you’re in a special place to do something important. That’s how I feel about Reseda’s iconic front entrance.
  2. Columbia blue is a beautiful shade, but it doesn’t reproduce in black-and-white photographs.
  3. You don’t have to be the best to make a difference. You just have to put in your best effort.
  4. I didn’t set out to be a valedictorian. I just focused on getting the best grade I could on each assignment. The As took care of themselves.
  5. Farrell’s ice cream is delicious. It tastes even better when you’re celebrating with your fellow cast members after a great performance.
  6. If you’re going to spend time in front of bright stage lights, don’t get eyeglasses with Photogray lenses.
  7. I used to think popularity was based on looks. I now realize that popularity is based on how you treat people and what you can do for them.
  8. If you have a crush on a girl, don’t write a love letter and put it in her locker. It will not end well.
  9. Be careful of what you write in a classmate’s yearbook. That classmate may think you like him, and he’ll never leave you alone.
  10. Female athletes are beautiful. (I married one.)
  11. I wouldn’t have earned my Eagle Scout if I hadn’t quit the troop that I was in initially. To achieve your goals, you have to leave whatever holds you back.
  12. Make the most of your opportunities. If you can pursue a sport or activity, go for it. If you see a club that interests you, join it. If you can take extra classes, take them. But if you take the easy way, you’ll miss out.
  13. Han shot first.
  14. It doesn’t matter how cool you think your taste in fashion and hairstyle is when you’re in high school. When your children are teenagers, they will look at your yearbook photos and laugh.
  15. Denim leisure suits, powder-blue tuxedos, short shorts for men, white knee-high socks with three colored stripes, Levi’s shoes, bell-bottom jeans? Yes, I’ve worn them all.
  16. “Soon enough, the carefree days, the sunlit days go by. Soon enough, the bluebird has to fly.”
  17. You can be who you wanted to be when you grew up.
  18. Don’t stop taking PE. Once you stop exercising regularly, you will gain weight, lose stamina, and affect your health. And it’s hard to start back up again.
  19. Resolve to be thyself; and know that he, who finds himself, loses his misery!”
  20. Buji means to free yourself from trouble, hindrance, and obstruction. When you do, your creativity and expression will flow.
  21. I learned skills working at the school newspaper and creative writing magazine that I’m still using in my career today.
  22. Work in fast food at least once in your life. It gives you a good appreciation of work and teaches you that you’re not too good to do any type of job. It also teaches you to respect the people who work behind the counter and serve you.
  23. You’re not immortal. Your life can end at any moment, possibly in a cruel and horrible way. Make the most of the time you have and appreciate those around you. They’re not immortal either.
  24. So it goes.”
  25. You will complain about your children’s music just as your parents complain about yours.
  26. It’s better to try and fail than not try and regret.
  27. Be willing to listen to other people’s political views, even if they are opposite from yours. You can still be friends with them even if you disagree. You might even learn something that causes you to reconsider your position. Don’t get locked into dogma or feel obligated to vote the way your parents do.
  28. If you receive something you don’t need, give it someone else. What may have little value to you may mean a lot to that person.
  29. Marijuana is cool! (Until someone you or someone you love develops a drug habit, loses interest in school and most other activities, falls in with sketchy people, becomes alienated from the rest of the family, gets in trouble with the law, and starts taking more dangerous drugs. Then, all those stoner comedies don’t seem so funny.)
  30. “You’re going out on that poop deck a chorus girl, but you’re coming back a star!”
  31. You can love your country and still learn about the negative parts of its history.
  32. Don’t let the Village People fool you: Life was miserable for LGBT teens in the 1970s. My brother and a number of my friends suffered in the closet, and those who had the door open even a crack suffered horrible ridicule and torment. I lost a few of my friends to AIDS. Today, the LGBT community has more resources, more support, and more visible role models in the media and society. Life still isn’t easy for LGBT teens, but it has gotten easier.
  33. You will believe a man can fly.”
  34. Only the best cheerleaders can rock a Little House on the Prairie-inspired uniform.
  35. Appreciate your teachers. You mean more to them than you realize, and they will shape you in ways you don’t expect. (With this in mind, thank you, Darlene Loiler, Alan Benson, Margaret Barlow, David Farley, Bernie Goodmanson, and all the rest.)
  36. Do not read a religious text cover to cover.
  37. I wish people who give ill-informed opinions were like Emily Litella. When you point out where they’re wrong, they just say, “Oh, that’s very different. Never mind.”
  38. Peaches and Herb were right: Reunited feels so good.
  39. The bigger the dream, the harder you have to work to achieve it. Don’t give up.
  40. You can try to deal with bullies by ignoring them or trying to reason with them. But at some point, you have to stand up and defend yourself.
  41. Don’t elect a president because he’s a “Washington outsider.” Some people should stay outside of Washington.
  42. “We can build a beautiful city.”
  43. Like the national anthem, a school’s alma mater is barely singable and has bizarre lyrics. And like the national anthem, you’ll get a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye every time you hear it.
  44. You will make bad choices and do stupid things. That’s where the lessons come from. Just don’t make ones that will ruin your life permanently.
  45. “You got to learn to roll with the changes.”
  46. There’s no better way to spend a Friday night than being with your friends cheering for your high school football team.
  47. You’ll never root for a team as much as the one your friends and family play on.
  48. While you’re in high school, you can’t wait to get out of there. Thirty or forty years later, you’ll drive 70 miles to go to a homecoming game.
  49. Hard work is eventually rewarded.
  50. Everything you learn in school is important and will be needed at some point in your life.
  51. The most valuable things you learn in high school aren’t in the classroom.
  52. Learn how to take care of yourself. Learn how to shop, manage your finances, do housework, choose candidates to vote for (especially at the local level), and make minor repairs. You will be out on your own sooner than you expect.
  53. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.”
  54. If I were to do high school again, I’d be more present and aware. You have to be conscious of what’s happening and how people respond to you. You can’t float in the bubble of an innocent world of your own. That bubble will pop, like it did for me when my mom had her stroke, and you will find yourself ill-prepared to deal with the harshness of the real world.
  55. Discover your roots.
  56. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have a high school romance or the one you have ends. It’s hard to have a lasting relationship while you’re still trying to figure out who you are. When the time is right, you’ll meet the right person. In the meantime, learn to love yourself.
  57. Even the Fonz cries.
  58. Stay connected with your classmates after you graduate high school. You’ll need them as you go through life’s stages together — from college, to starting a career, to getting married, to having a family, and to growing older. You’ll need their support as your friends and loved ones pass away. Keep those high school friendships alive.
  59. You will always have a deep connection with the place where you grew up.
  60. Finis coronat opus.