HUNT COLUMN: Quantum Leaps on the Wild Leap Plaza

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, June 22, 2022

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By Cathy Hunt
Troup County School Board Chairwoman

On a recent beautiful spring Saturday, my husband and I were hanging out with my daughters and a few of their friends at Wild Leap, listening to the band, sampling the food trucks, and soaking up some sunshine. There was a good crowd there, and at one point I looked at my husband and said, “I know a lot of people in this town, so I’m finding it weird that I don’t see anybody I know HERE.” Usually I can’t dash to the corner CVS for five minutes without running into a friend or acquaintance. And a trip to the grocery store usually means stopping for three or four conversations in the aisles.

“Well,” he said, “that might have something to do with us being the oldest people here.”

“You may be right,” I sighed. For the record, we did see one gentleman that looked older, but we were almost certainly the runners-up. But no matter — we pride ourselves on being young at heart.

A bit later, as I wandered inside to find the restroom, a young man stopped me in my tracks. “Hey!” he boomed enthusiastically. And I did recognize him, easily.

He hadn’t changed much at all since he was in my class, although that was long enough ago for him to have become a doctor and return to LaGrange several years ago to practice medicine.

“I’m so glad to see you,” I said. “I was just complaining to my hubby that I didn’t know anyone here.”

He laughed and said, “Oh yes you do. You just don’t recognize them.”

And he began pointing to some figures in the crowd and giving me the names of other former students. It would indeed have been difficult to place them without his help to navigate changes in size and hairdos.

He told me to be sure to look for his wife and their kids before I left, his wife being another of my students (they’d been together since high school) and also a doctor in practice in LaGrange.

I enjoyed happy conversations with a few of them before I left for the day. The last one was with a man who played in the high school band and went on to become a world class opera singer. I want to call him a young man, but I am only seven years his senior. The first “kids” I taught are now in their mid-fifties, which is a little hard for me to wrap my brain around.

These encounters made me reflect on the joy of seeing young people blossom and become successful.

One thing Facebook is good for is keeping up with so many of those who spent time in my classroom.

They have made careers in medicine, law enforcement, hospitality, IT, the military. They are lawyers and paralegals, architects, social workers, graphic artists, machinists, performing artists.

Many have become teachers, counselors, professors, principals. One is making a living as an actor on Broadway, another in Hollywood. They are moms and dads.

Their parents and our public school system produced and continue to produce these fine citizens who contribute so much to society. With all the bad news today, we don’t hear enough about them.

Perhaps I played a small part in shaping their trajectory. I believe that spending so many years among teenagers kept me young at heart. I know that they enrich my life and give me hope. And I’m so grateful to know them.