My friend, Lloyd, and I graduated from the same high school. We often talk and laugh about that period in our lives. Our high school days occurred over fifty years ago but those days continue to produce interesting echoes.
Our high school served predominately white, blue collar, working class neighborhoods in Louisville. Our school did not have all of the resources or the perceived advantages of high schools in wealthier neighborhoods in the East End. I used to think that whatever I learned in those teenage years was in spite of my high school, not because of it.
Like high school kids everywhere we learned to entertain ourselves during school hours by pranking teachers or inventing other ways to creatively misbehave. Sometimes after school we entertained ourselves by watching tough guys fight each other behind the Texaco station next door. The tough guy fights drew large crowds and provided valuable learning opportunities for those of us in the audience. For example, I learned how to avoid eye contact and become invisible in order to avoid spin off fights that were sometimes inspired by the main events.
I don’t remember much of the formal academic side of my high school experience. However, I do have one exceptional high school memory. My senior year I took a humanities class taught by Francis Schneiter. In Ms. Schneiter’s class we read, among other books, The World's Religions by Huston Smith and The Story of Philosophy by Will and Ariel Durrant. I have very positive memories of sitting in humanities class reading and discussing specific pages of these books with Ms. Schneiter. It was not a coincidence that a few years later I majored in Philosophy in college. Nor was it a coincidence that I paid attention to the remarkable life and career of Huston Smith until his death in 2016.
Ms. Schneiter died a few years ago. I hope she was aware that she was a visionary and an inspirational teacher.