By Megan Hopps
SUN PRESS Newspapers
It was 2008 when it was my turn to put on that navy cap and gown. Back then Champlin Park held its graduation commencement ceremony at Northrup Hall at the U of M campus. That was the last time the class of 2008 was all together. I can’t believe it’s been six years since I walked across that stage with my classmates.
And not much has changed for me in those six years. I still go back to watch sporting events, concerts and plays. Only this time, I’m not involved in it. I’m in the audience; a spectator. But it’s still just as fun to watch.
About a month ago I was at the boys basketball section game. Champlin Park played Osseo at Rogers. Yeah, you know the game I’m talking about. The game we lost… In overtime. But I’m getting side tracked. That’s not the point.
The point is, I learned something that day from sitting in the stands that I wish I would have known when I was in high school; when I was a cheering student in that sea of navy and white.
I sat behind a family with two young boys, they looked like they were in late grade school. They came to the game sporting their Rebels sweatshirts, ready to cheer on their team.
With each play the team ran, the student section roared their support. They made gestures when each team shot free throws, and chanted the classic ‘You Can’t Do That’ when Osseo fouled against the Rebels.
I noticed these young boys looking over at the students, waiting to see what they would do next. The students put their hands up, wiggling their fingers in a “make-it-rain” motion. And those two young boys did the same thing. After all, they were Rebels too.
It opened my eyes to the amount of influence high school students have on the youth in our community.
If I had been less concerned about how my hair looked or what jeans I was wearing, who knows what a difference I could have made in high school. It made me realize how self-absorbed I was back then. I remember practicing for choir concerts, getting together with friends before football games, working to shave off a few seconds of my personal best swim time in the 100-freestyle. It was all about me back then. I spent my time shopping, tanning and feeling sorry for myself because I had never gone on a date.
I should have been less concerned with myself and, what I called back then, my “problems” and focused more on the fact that people looked up to me. That kids looked up to me. That adults had expectations for me and that children looked to me as an example of what it means to be a high-schooler. What it means to be a Rebel.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want kids thinking that being 17 means losing your virginity and sneaking booze into the house.
I’d hope kids look up to high-schoolers proud to call themselves Rebels. And that being a Rebel means cheering for your team, supporting one another and getting involved in the community. I hope they look forward to participating in Rebel sports, volunteering, learning new things and exceeding the expectations people set for them. That’s what I hope you are doing now. That’s what I hope little ones will grow to be. And they’ll have learned it from you.
Contact Megan Hopps at firstname.lastname@example.org