Friday, March 10, 2006

Colin of Moody

He probably thinks I've forgotten, but I haven't. Usually, I send Colin Moody a note before his birthday---just in case my senior memory causes me to forget every March 10. I've been thinking about him all week and wondering where he's hiding out these days. I've heard he's doing some substitute teaching and some additional schooling.

Anyway, today is Colin Moody's 33 birthday, and I'd like to showcase him publicly because of all the sunshine he spreads to so many lives, including mine. This morning, we do have about five inches of new snow outside, which would usually make me frown this time of the year, but just thinking about Colin brings a smile to my face.

I have lots of reasons to light up whenever Colin's name is mentioned. First, he's one of 4,500 students I've had the honor to teach. Secondly, he's responsible for my deciding to advise the Sandpoint High School Cedar Post newspaper after my own mentor Bob Hamilton retired. I was asked a couple of times if I wanted the job but declined. Then, I learned that folks like Colin, Danny Raiha, Vern Nelson, Jim Patton and Holly Walker would be leading the staff that year.

I couldn't resist because I'd had them all as sophomores and loved them to death---well, maybe not quite that much. But, they were great kids and having the chance to work with them again in a discipline I also loved, weakened my resolve never to deal with deadlines and teenagers again. I'd done that for 14 years with the yearbook and thought I'd learned my lesson.

Colin would be at the helm as Cedar Post editor. That put me at ease about walking somewhat blindly into a high-stress, creative teaching situation with frequent deadlines. My confidence had been heightened, however, by watching Colin as a sophomore in my fifth-period honors English class. He sat in the front row next to the window, and on any given day, his upbeat, can-do attitude gave me a mid-afternoon lift.

His energy, maturity, intelligence and creativity helped too. Somewhere in my house, tucked away in one of those many boxes that we all keep forever, there's a major project he submitted after reading James Michener's Alaska. It's got all the important information about the novel, and it's packaged into a little laminated booklet, shaped like the state of Alaska.

Colin's ability to pick up information--especially with computers--- and put it into action quickly saved my neck that first year when I advised the Cedar Post. In addition, his willingness to stretch far beyond the norm took us to some exciting heights that year, including the first-ever 32-page alumni paper almost completely produced (layout and ads) on two little Apple computers, a scanner and one printer. Of course, we all virtually lived at the school for two months to get it done, but it sure turned out nice.

We went to Albuquerque to the National Journalism Education Association Convention that spring. Never have four days flown by so fast, and never---before or since----can I remember laughing that hard. With Dwayne Sheffler helping out as the other chaperone, we stayed at a cool hotel which offered free ice cream sundaes in the courtyard every afternoon. We drove our vans all over Albuquerque singing to the Oldies blaring at extreme decibel levels.

We also wore ourselves out playing with a fake plastic turd that someone had purchased at a novelty store. The highlight for that prop occurred during a 3 1/2 hour layover in Denver Airport, which is documented in my upcoming third book. Someone still has the video to prove that many deplaning passengers really did think they had stepped in something gross while walking to their next gate.

And, speaking of the book, one of the many wonderful gestures Colin has extended my way during high school and in the years since is to write the "Foreward" for this book about my teaching career. He also showed up in my classroom on my last day ever to celebrate the end of my career and to read to me a parody he'd written of Shakespeare's famous "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech from Julius Caesar.

It would be an understatement to say that Colin and I have shared a mutual-admiration society ever since we first met. It would also be an understatement to say that I am not alone in his giant circle of friends. I am positive that wherever this young man goes, there's mutual admiration, great respect and total awe at how he can light up a room and bring out the very best in others. That's a rare quality, and on this day when Colin has turned one-third century old, I must acknowledge what a special gift he has been to this world.

I could write several chapters about my experiences and my admiration for him---as could so many others. So, Colin, old friend, whatever you've been up to, I know it's good. I wish for you a giant barrel of your own personal sunshine today.

I'm lookin' at that March snow out there and not even complaining because just writing about you puts me in a good MOOD (y).

Happy Birthday!


Jamie said...

Wow...I hadn't thought about Colin for years! Having sat in that same 5th period English class (and a few other classes) with Colin during our sophomore year, I also remember him as always upbeat and enjoyable to be around. I only spent 9 months in Sandpoint back during the 1988-89 school year so I don't often remember much unless someone triggers my memory with a name or photo. Thanks for bringing up Colin, Danny, Vern and Holly--it brought back some good memories.

MLove said...

Tell that Wanda to write to me. I wrote her a note and never received a response.