Shortly after the school year began I received news of one of my former students dying in a car accident. She had just graduated in June. The car she was in was travelling too fast, the driver misjudged a turn, and the car wound up in a canal upside down. The four people in the car were returning from a going away party for my former student. She was destined for UC Davis the following week. Assumptions swirled about whether alcohol or drugs were involved, but the toxicology report found no evidence of any alcohol or drugs; just some teenagers in a car driving too fast. This was obviously a very sobering moment that caused us all to pause and reflect.
The year has continued with any number of the usual ups and downs of a high school, to be elaborated upon at some other time. But another event occurred recently that, in a way, is just as sobering as losing a former student. One of my current students, who is about to graduate, is pregnant. I connect the two events because they are both examples of “in the moment” decisions that altar lives forever. It reminds me of the microcosm of the larger society that schools are. It makes me wonder “who am I reaching”? It makes me hope that I can help other students to learn how to make the right decisions so they will live long and healthy lives.