Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where I Went to High School: Saratoga Springs Senior High

Like most of my life up until that point, High School for me was briefly spent moving. My Freshman year was spent at Northmont High in Dayton, Ohio. I made a few good friends, but by and large hated it. Then, as we often did, my family packed up and moved away, this time to Saratoga Springs, New York. A little more than a week into the semester, I began my Sophomore year at Saratoga Springs Senior High.

There's a certain mystique to being the New Kid. You get to reinvent yourself in ways that wouldn't be possible around people that you've come to know for years. In Ohio, I started school the same day as everybody else and quickly became that nerdy kid from Arizona whom had never been to public school. I learned a lot of hard lessons there about the social scene. If not for a stroke of blind luck, I probably never would have made any friends during my two years there (not entirely true; I had friends in my neighborhood, but I almost never saw them at school). Within a week of being the bonafide New Kid, I had a date to the Homecoming Dance, one Krissy Dittmar, and had met Matt Williams, whom would become my longtime best-friend-and-collaborator.

Unfortunately, there's also a consequence to being the new guy in town. This is especially true in a community like Saratoga Springs, which is known more for attracting tourists than lifetime residents. The people living there had all grown up with each other since grade school, meaning the social cliques which had been established were ironclad by the time High School rolled around. As a result, I never actually settled in with one group. Where I spent my lunch (the surest gauge of which social circle you belong to) could change at any given time. One day I'd be sitting with Amber Hall, the girl nice enough to invite me to sit at her table after noticing I was alone. The next I'd be outside in the expansive open area in the gazebo which was a gift from the Class of 1998, hanging out with friends of Krissy's or talking wrestling and comic books with Matt.

Now, there are a lot of things I could focus on regarding High School. It was there I met Claire, whom, besides one brief relationship before her, was the only girl I actually dated in Saratoga Springs (funnily enough, I ended up dating 4 other girls from that school, but all years after I graduated). I could talk about my battles with Mrs. Finnegan, my Senior English teacher, on the proper interpretation of "Hamlet." There was also my ill-fated decision to run for Student Council President, which while I had flashy special effects and entrance music for, I neglected to write a speech.

Instead, I'll just touch on the theater. I had decided back then, long before (or after, since I had declared when I was 5 that I would be President one day) my political ambitions took hold, that I would become an actor. So naturally when auditions for the school production of "Grease" were advertised, I was all up in that. By all standards I've learned since then, my audition was positively atrocious. Fortunately, I'm very good looking, which was good enough to land me the part of Kenickie. However, Director Bob (Bob Berenas, whom I believe is still directing there today) had a keen enough ear to recognize that I can't sing to save my life, so Jason Gibbs was given the "Greased Lightning" song (when the cast sheet was posted, there was an asterisk and note next to my name which read "Not Singing "Greased Lightning").

"Grease" was tremendous fun. I probably decided then and there that I would continue to pursue theater, which I eventually earned by degree in. Though she hated me when we met (I was really weird, according to her, which is ironic because she is totally weird) the girl who played Rizzo, Joanna Koslowsky, ended up being my actual prom date in one of those life-imitating-art moments. However, even being a part of a cast and working with the same kids every day for hours at a time, I never really did break into their social circle. By and large the cast list was drawn from the Choraliers - the elite amongst the school choir - and they didn't have room for the kid who couldn't sing. Also, I was probably really weird.

The next two years I'd have supporting roles in "The Wiz," - during the course of which I met another good friend, Lindsay Shoen (she was the Wicked Witch), and then wrapped up High School with "State Fair." For the last one, I had joined the wrestling team before auditions began that year, and was informed a month or so in that the schedules for the two could not peacefully co-exist. I chose theater.

Saratoga Springs Senior High School afforded me an excellent education and some very memorable and life-long friends. Krissy got married and has a baby boy. Claire became a dentist and lives on Long Island. Matt still lives near Saratoga, and will be marrying his longtime girlfriend Cait in a wedding where I've been asked to be a groomsman - by the way Matt, we're going to have a talk about who the Best Man is. While I don't always keep in touch with the people I knew from High School, I try to catch up whenever I know one of them is around, or whenever I go back to Saratoga to visit. I don't even have time in this post - for the sake of keeping it somewhere within the realm of a readable length - to talk about everybody; Devlin, Alex, Phil, Sabrina, Katie, Alisa, Lena - all the people from High School whom had some bearing on my life afterward.

My High School is gone now. The year I graduated they began a massive new renovation project. That gazebo was torn down - in fact, the entire outdoor area was eliminated to make way for new classrooms. The theater is still there; I got to see my younger sister perform there for the school's annual French Night. That is the only part which remains recognizable to me. Everything else has changed completely. My teachers have left or retired, the rooms they taught me in are gone or changed. It would seem that in this aspect of my life, we both moved on. The only difference is that Saratoga Springs Senior High will make little distinction between one more pair of sneakers which tread its halls, whereas I know that in some way, I have been shaped by what happened during my time within them.

And that is where I went to High School.