What I Loved About High School

Peter asked me the other day if I was feeling a bit nostalgic after my 20th high school reunion. It’s not so much nostalgia…I’m not wishing life was what it used to be because I would never want to be 17-20 years old and in high school again. I’ve already begun praying over my daughter’s high school experience, which should begin in a mere 22 months.

What I’m feeling is…just…weird. Clearly seeing people I haven’t seen in 20-some-odd years did quite a number on me. There is a lot about high school that I disliked. I hated being one of the few Asian Americans in a graduating class of 600+ (and yes, I remember the name and face of the girl who would stand behind my in the line at the cafeteria and repeatedly say things like, “Hey, gook. Go back to where you came from chink!”). I envied the few geeks who could, at least from my vantage point, easily navigate their way through multiple cliques. They made the grade and went to the parties. (Let’s not try to deny that there were cliques, ok?) And I hated and envied my high school’s version of the mean girls. They wore and carried everything my family could not afford while simultaneously represented what my parents in the material sense were working towards, and they seemed, again from my vantage point, untouchable.

But what I am left with is this weird feeling because it has taken this much time to be able to look back and see God’s hand and say truthfully that there were things I not only learned from high school but loved about high school.

So, in no particular order are a few of those things…I’d love to know what you learned from and loved about high school (and if you’re not there yet feel free to share what you hated and what hurt).

  • I learned just enough about photography, music, history and literature to whet a life-long appetite for more.
  • I loved being in a real high school musical. There was something strangely powerful and addicting about taking on the persona of a dancer in “Guys and Dolls” and prancing around in a VERY PINK leotard and fishnet stockings and singing “Take back your mink”. Being a part of the cast and crew family was amazing. (Secret: I still have my stage shoes.)
  • I learned that I loved words – written and spoken. I also learned that I wasn’t much of an actor but that I could learn a lot by being in the company of those who were.
  • I loved being on the pom-pom squad because I loved to move, but I learned that being on a team didn’t mean you were necessarily part of the team. I kind of felt bad for the varsity squad member who ended up with me as her “little sister” when I was on the jv squad because it almost said as much about her as it did about me in a strange high school-ish sort of way.
  • I learned that I could be just as mean and cruel.
  • I loved spirit week (until senior year) and decorating the halls.
  • I learned that I had a tendency to have very high expectations of myself and then projected those onto others. (Many apologies to the Perspective staff who felt my wrath as we published the school newspaper.)
  • I loved finding my locker decorated by my friends on my birthday.
  • I learned that some teachers really do have an incredible influence on students’ lives. Thanks to Mrs. U, Mr. C, Mr. W, Ms. R, Mr. S and Ms. S.
OK, that’s it. I really need to move on…but wait. High School Musical 3 comes out next week!!!!


  1. Christina October 18, 2008

    Hi Kathy,

    I attended the More Than Serving Tea conference at Seattle Pacific University today and wanted to let you know that I tremendously enjoyed your speech. Your preliminary descriptions of Martha and Mary were so precisely equivalent to what I thought that I could hardly believe what I was hearing. It was such a comfort to be able to relate and think, “I’m not the only one!”

    I hope to always think twice now before pointing the finger at my younger, prettier, and sometimes more docile sister or at other sisters saying, “She’s just sitting there! Why isn’t she doing anything?!” Thank you for a wonderful and thought-provoking talk.


  2. Kathy Khang October 22, 2008

    I’m so glad that I’m not the only one! Isn’t it amazing and scary to realize how culture shapes the way we interact with one another and with scripture! We’ll both have to remember not to point fingers 😉


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