Janet Urquhart: Back when I was your age ? | AspenTimes.com

Janet Urquhart: Back when I was your age ?

I had to laugh about the plan to close the Aspen High School campus and keep students, or at least freshmen and sophomores, there all day.

Why would they want to leave? It’ll be like being locked up at a country club.

I’ve been in the new high school a couple of times now, and all I can say is, it’s not much like my alma mater. The seminar room, outfitted for power-point presentations to students who can plug in their laptops at every seat, is nicer than any lecture hall I ever sat in at college.

You know you’re old when you feel the urge to say, “When I was your age ?” to some young, yes, I’ll say it, whippersnapper.

I didn’t exactly do my lessons on a slate tablet, but I do recall pens, paper and typing class. Yeah, with typewriters.

My high school did have a computer. It took up a whole room and anyone who spent time there might as well have stamped a “G” for geek on their forehead. Now, I’m the geek who can barely function on a computer.

Anyway, back to the closed campus thing. I have no idea whether my high school campus was technically closed or open. It was so far out in the middle of agricultural nowhere, there was no place to go anyway. It was kind of the Alcatraz approach to secondary education.

Actually, there was a tavern nearby. The Woods Road Tap was located kitty-corner from the campus. (In Wisconsin, the rule isn’t that you can’t have a bar within so many feet of a school, it’s that you should have a bar within so many feet of a school.)

For sure, we needed a car to get to town and back during the lunch hour. A bike wouldn’t cut it. But, only upperclassmen could bring a car and most of us didn’t own one. I don’t remember any of my friends driving to school regularly. I, personally, was only permitted to take a car to school as a senior, and then only on days when I had to go to work immediately afterward.

It was just as well. The student parking lot was a gravel, cratered landscape that a lunar rover would have difficulty negotiating. No one had mammoth SUVs at their disposal. The student fleet was predominantly old beaters interspersed with a few hot rods.

So, most of us were stuck there from the time we stepped off the school bus to the time we boarded for the circuitous ride home.

And we weren’t stuck in a place with a student lounge and its own chairlift to the slopes, either.

I can’t imagine grabbing my skis and taking a few runs during a 90-minute free period or zipping across the street to swim laps or relax in the leisure pool. There were no nordic tracks set in the frozen expanse out back, and the nearest NHL-sized ice rink to my high school was at least an hour’s drive away.

No one had ever heard of climbing walls, let alone had access to one, which is not to say I never climbed the walls in high school, but it was a figurative thing.

A free period meant going to the library, where one had to be quiet, or heading to “study hall,” which was something of a misnomer. Replace “study” with “talk with friends” and “hall” with “cafeteria” and you’ve pretty much got it. We had a Coke machine, though. Ha ha.

As an upperclassman, I tended to fill up my schedule with elective courses to keep myself occupied. Classes. What a concept.

[Janet Urquhart’s 25th high school reunion will take place this year. Her column appears on Fridays.]

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