1. Who was your best friend?
I don't think I could pick just one. I had really geeky friends who were the top students, and I had a crowd of noble miscreants I hung out with on weekends. Maybe Joel, as he was my go-to friend for homework questions, discussions of school politics, and general extracurricular activities.
2. What sports did you play?
I was a manager for the football team, so I kept track of the game balls, the water buckets and the sideline setup during games, and made sure all the equipment got out to the practice field and back during the week.
3. What kind of car did you drive?
I drove my mom's '86 Toyota Corolla when I could borrow it from her. I only drove it to school a few times, mostly at the end of the year.
4. It's Friday night, where were you at?
Usually out with my friends, playing pool, trying to pick up girls at the mall or hanging out at someone's house.
5. Were you a party animal?
In a word, no.
6. Were you in the "In Crowd"?
No, although I was slightly more popular during football season, due to my affiliation with the team. Maybe I'm just remembering it that way.
7. Ever skip school?
Once, when we had a student "strike" to protest the ongoing teachers' selective strike that had disrupted school for most of the fall semester. Since the teachers would decide each day whether to strike or not, one day the students showed up at the high school with signs and pickets and refused to go into the building. We had news coverage, food, parental support, the works. The principal came out and said we were OK to strike that one day as long as we moved the protest to the middle school. So we formed a caravan of students driving their own cars two miles away to the middle school, which was on a high-traffic road and offered us much better exposure to the public. By early afternoon we were all cold and hungry (it was early November), so most of us went home. The strike continued throughout the rest of the school year and into the next, so our protest made absolutely no difference. But it was fun just the same.
8. Ever smoke?
No. I lost respect for my friends and girls I liked when I found out they smoked.
9. Were you a nerd?
Nerd, geek, dork, you name it, I fit it. I was in the top ten students in my class, took almost all AP classes, captained the quiz bowl team, and got my acceptance letter for Georgetown in December, earlier than anyone else in my class got accepted to college.
10. Did you get suspended/expelled?
No. I never even had detention. I stayed after school because I wanted to, not because I had to.
11. Can you sing the Alma Mater?
The words to the Alma Mater were printed in the student handbook, but I never heard it played so I don't know the music. The school fight song was the Notre Dame fight song, but I don't think we had our own words.
12. Who was your favorite teacher?
Mr. Pompanella, who taught AP American/European History. He treated his class like a college course, and for the most part got college-level work out of his students. And he was fond of muttering Latin phrases under his breath, knowing we couldn't understand him. Ms. Adams, my AP English teacher, is a close second, as her class was the one that inspired me to major in English at Georgetown.
13. Favorite class?
14. What was your school's full name?
Westmont Hilltop High School.
15. School mascot?
A "Hilltopper", which was a ripoff of the Notre Dame mascot. I think our mascot faces the other way, probably to avoid a lawsuit. At football games during my era, a student wore a giant red & gray football costume and danced on the sidelines in front of the band.
16. Did you go to Prom?
Yes, with a friend from my Jewish youth group who came all the way from Charleston, WV for the event.
17. If you could go back and do it over, would you?
Yes. By the time I got to high school, I had figured out how to handle the relentless teasing of the students who picked on nerds like me. As a result, high school was largely free of that sort of harassment, and I was able to enjoy myself more than I had in previous grades. I loved football season and being a part of the team, albeit as a much-abused manager. If I could go back in time, I'd join the team as a sophomore, when we won a district championship, instead of the following year, when we went 4-6.
18. What do you remember most about graduation?
Playing a viola solo during the ceremony. And sweating under my robe -- the auditorium was hot and those robes were some kind of synthetic non-breathable fabric.
19. Favorite memory of your Senior Year?
Going to Pennsylvania's All-State Orchestra festival in April. I had to pass an audition to get there, and I studied the music and practiced more than ever before (or since) to get through. It was my last music festival, and I'd known many of the other musicians there for years, so it was a last hurrah for all of us.
20. Were you ever posted up on the senior wall?
Whatever that is, we didn't have it. However, after graduation my name was on the "Top Ten" plaque for my class, which should still be hanging outside the school auditorium. Future generations of Hilltoppers can look up at my name and think "who the hell was that guy?" If they notice it at all.
21. Did you have a job your senior year?
I played in the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, which paid me about $140 a concert, enough to pay for gas and entertainment on weekends.
22. Who did you date?
No one seriously, though I did have a few dates. My only high school girlfriend was Becky Gore, who I dated the previous year. Becky, if you're out there, say hello.
23. Where did you go most often for lunch?
Because of the way my classes were scheduled, I had to eat lunch in French class. I took so many classes I didn't have time for an actual lunch in the cafeteria.
24. Have you gained weight since then?
I gained weight in college and in the years after, then lost it a few years ago. When I was home at Christmas, I found a pair of jeans in my closet that had been there since high school. I think they might fit me now.
25. What did you do after graduation?
Immediately afterwards, I went to a family graduation party at the home of my stepmother's nieces, who were my classmates. Then I played Trivial Pursuit with my geeky friends until the wee hours. Since we'd had a strike all year, we graduated on June 30 and I only had about seven weeks of summer. I spent most of that time at home hanging out at home, though I did go to Washington, DC for a few weeks to see my dad and take care of some business at Georgetown.
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