June 28 is the date of my 10-year high school reunion. It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since I walked across the stage to get my diploma.
I have to say I am very excited to see how life has changed for my fellow classmates in the last decade. Lost connections will be remade, old friendships will be rekindled and we’ll reminisce about memories of our school days.
A topic that I’m sure will come up will be how much our high school itself has changed in the last 10 years. The school in question is Lafayette.
Within the last year or so, Lafayette High School has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons – high dropout rates, poor attendance, the inability to serve immigrant students and the list goes on and on.
Apparently, things have gotten so bad that it has been labeled a “failing” school. There has been talk of outside counsel, such as Erie 1 BOCES or even New York State, stepping in to get the school back on track.
Now, I could sit here and write about what should be done or who is to blame for this failure, but that’s not what this column is about. Besides, there’s enough finger-pointing as it is. I don’t need to add to it. I’m just here to tell the story of the Lafayette that I knew when I started there in September 2000.
As a freshman, I didn’t know much about the school other than it was my mother’s alma mater. I was also the only student from my eighth-grade class who would be attending Lafayette. But that didn’t stop me from trying to get involved; I even ran for freshman class president. Although I lost, it helped to get me quickly acclimated to the school.
By the time I graduated in June 2004, I had a solid group of friends and was no longer the odd kid out. I was on our prom committee. I was part of the after-school poetry club. I acted in the school play that year. After graduation, I was able to go on to college, where I graduated in 2009 with a 3.4 grade point average.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that being the only kid from my grade school at Lafayette forced me to grow up and blossom. Lafayette helped me to do that.
Of course, things were a lot different in the summer of 2004. Barack Obama was still a state senator, Mark Zuckerberg had just launched Facebook and the term “smartphone” was foreign to most of us students. Because of the latter two being true, I believe it was a lot easier to be a teenager then because things were simpler.
This is probably what the approach should be when it comes to finding remedies to fix this and other failing Buffalo Public Schools, but again, I am not presenting solutions here.
In several months, members of the class of 2004 will convene at our chosen location to talk about what we have all been doing over the past 10 years. Hopefully, there will be major changes at Lafayette so that in 2024, at our 20-year reunion, and at the 10-year reunion of the current class of 2014, I won’t be writing from this same angle.
To my classmates I suggest: Let’s not get wrapped up in the problems that Lafayette is currently facing. Instead, let’s focus on the positive experiences we shared when we attended and remind people what it could be again.