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Things always change and things always stay the same

By Ronnie Cameron

SHS graduate of Class of 1973

“Nature’s first green is gold / Her hardest hue to hold / Her early leaf’s a flower / But only so an hour / So leaf subsides to leaf / And Eden sank to grief / And dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.” – Robert Frost

Three graduates of the venerable Swainsboro High School join us here today as we explore how, either things have drastically changed over the years, or change is an illusion, and everything basically stays the same.

Our first guest will graduate this year and will be known throughout the interview as Spring. The second guest graduated 25 years ago in the magical class of 1998 and will be referred to as Summer. That gray haired old codger sitting in the corner adjusting his hearing aid will be named Fall. Winter didn’t make it.

Question 1: Who were/are the main influencers of your generation when you were/are graduating?

Spring: Laura Wells is a body-positive public figure who teaches individuals to love their bodies.

Summer: As a typical latchkey kid that grew up in the 90s, I spent most of my free time watching MTV and listening to music, so it seems only natural that I was influenced by the musicians and artists on my many homemade mix tapes. Some of my favorite bands of that time including Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Green Day, and Pearl Jam helped me sort out my feelings of teenage angst and not fitting in society’s mold. Female artists like Alanis Morrisette and Gwen Stefani taught me that being vulnerable and true to yourself is a strength and encouraged me to embrace the power of my femininity.

Fall: I think back of the athletes and coaches of the day who served as role models for us, including Joe Namath, Brooks Robinson, Jack Nicklaus, just to name a few. At that time, we listened to the radio a lot, but we didn’t have the influx of videos they have today, so I can’t think of a single musician that influenced me much. Loved the music, of course, but just never considered any musician as an influencer.

Question 2: What song will always remind you of this/that time in your life?

Spring: “Fifteen” by Taylor Swift because it describes the life of a teen going through school.

Summer: “Good Riddance," Green Day.

Fall: To me, Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” always takes me back to that era because I am such a fan of Faces and Rod Stewart. “Maggie” actually came out in 1971, but that’s close enough. By the time we graduated, it still permeated the airways. The Allman Brothers started making noise in 1973, and out of Jacksonville, Florida, came hints of a band that would change things around called Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Question 3: What did you learn in high school that you’ll always carry with you?

Spring: Even when you think people are not looking, they are, so always do your best.

Summer: The unexpected passing of two classmates on the same day had a major impact on so many of us that attended SHS at that time. It was the first time that many of us, me included, had experienced the loss of someone that we knew personally. To experience the unpredictability and frailty of life together brought us closer together as a class.

Fall: Some events that happened at the time seemed menial, but they stayed with me all my life. Some events that happened at the time seemed monumental, but time proved them to be meaningless.

Question 4: What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself during high school?

Spring: I’m more of a keep-to-myself person rather than a social one.

Summer: That it is easier and much more comfortable to be your true self than to try and conform to standards that don’t make sense for your life.

Fall: That I do appreciate the concept of learning / education. I have never stopped. What I never cottoned to is the fact that we were made to sit in alphabetical order in straight lines and had to stay quiet for hours on end.

Question 5: If you could give your younger self advice about life after graduating, what would it be? For the graduate, what advice would you give your younger self starting high school as a freshman?

Spring: Slow down and enjoy your high school, hang out with friends, and don’t worry about adult life.

Summer: Follow your passions and not the money. You’ll be much happier and more successful.

Fall: Be patient. Regardless of what your parents and teachers were saying, life is expansive and takes a while to make sense. Give yourself time to think about things and make meaningful decisions. Just don’t rush all the time.

Question 6: What is/was your dream job at that time?

Spring: Head bank teller.

Summer: Graphic design or teaching.

Fall: My three choices were teaching and coaching and journalism of some sort. My childhood dream was to drive a tanker truck. Thankfully, I managed all three during my life.

Question 7: Who was your most influential teacher? Why?

Spring: Lindy Sikes was my band teacher. He made sure to keep previous generations of music around and I can thank him for my music taste. He also made sure he was there for everyone. When something went wrong, we could always go to him, and he always noticed when something was wrong.

Summer: Sara Munn was my most influential teacher. She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, and I am forever grateful for the day she pulled me into the hallway and scolded me for not living up to my potential.

Fall: Without doubt, my coaches, especially Bill Schofill and Desse Davis. As far as classroom teachers, Barbara Stokes taught me how to be a teacher without realizing it at the time, and Lennis Powell taught me that it’s perfectly acceptable to demand perfection. In other words, as they say in sniper school, aim small, miss small.

Question 8: Do/did you have any fears about life after graduation?

Spring: Life is hard, and you need people to support you. I am scared to lose my support system.

Summer: I laugh about this now, but I was terrified that I wasn’t smart enough to go to college.

Fall: I was afraid the Clown College in D.C. might start another war just as soon as Vietnam cooled down. I volunteered for the U.S. Army straight out of high school, but I wasn’t keen on fighting a war in some jungle overseas. Turns out, the dimwits in D.C. abandoned the jungles and moved on to the desert in the middle east and Africa. I’m as patriotic as the next person, but I would prefer to involve the Constitution in my wars.

Question 9: What movie or TV show best captures your life in high school?

Spring: The Fosters; there are so many different children in the house doing several different


Summer: 10 Things I Hate About You – classic 90s teen movie.

Fall: Friday Night Lights, to be sure. High school revolved around athletics for me.

Question 10: What do/did you hope for most after graduation?

Spring: That I find what my true calling is and bless the people who helped me.

Summer: My biggest hope for myself at graduation was that I was going to go out into the world and experience life outside of Emanuel County. My curiosity made me crave a life full of destinations and cultural experiences.

Fall: I didn’t want to disappoint myself. For the most part, I’ve managed that, but, going back to Lennis Powell, I aim small and miss small, so I have disappointed myself and others at times, but it didn’t kill me. What I did manage to do is to find the absolute perfect lady to marry and grow old with, and we somehow managed to raise two perfect children. Where we failed is in the grandchildren department. They are hellions.


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