Skipping class and other lessons from high school

As a parent to a brand-new member of Ashland's school district, I do worry about class sizes. My son is quiet and small and tends to turn a little invisible. Not at home, of course. At home, he is the supreme leader, on par with those demonized dictators of South America's past. But at school he suddenly turns much more shy.

That's why, even with the growing class sizes all over the district, I am glad that Silas is in a small class for his kindergarten. I'm not going to mention names or exact numbers, though, because I don't want other parents making a run on the classroom I've so successfully found. But I worry for next year and the year after and when he finally gets to high school and may end up the quiet kid, unnoticed in the back of a giant chemistry classroom.

I myself am a graduate of Ashland High School. I had a couple classes that I loved. I loved my biology class. It was in the middle of dissecting a cat that I realized there is very little in this world that can make me feel disgusted; this was half of the deciding factor that led me to study nursing in college. I don't remember how large that class was, certainly not real small, but small enough that there were enough cats to go around.

The smallest class I ever took was a creative writing class. I don't know why I signed up for it; presumably it simply fit into my schedule. I was never a big fan of writing, particularly creatively, but somehow, with those 12 other students, having the opportunity to share, and really work with the teacher closely, I actually started to enjoy it. Of course that now pays off for the moments when I am an unemployed nurse working as a columnist.

Most of my memories of high school have little to do with class size or classes in general. I remember going to a my first high school football game in a red sweater and my first high school dance. I remember falling in love for the first time and getting picked up for school in the morning by my boyfriend. I can still remember exactly where my friends and I would sit on the quad, where we would meet between classes and where we would sit to eat lunch. I skipped class with my friends to swim in the reservoir and we would go out to Emigrant Lake on the weekends.

High school was a lot of fun. Between heartbreaks and football games, I'm sure I learned something here and there, as I managed to graduate from high school and go on to college without too much difficulty. Some of my teachers are still there. I still feel a little guilty when I see the ones I could have been nicer to and I still feel happy to see the ones that hauled me through the day on the times I just wanted to be a surly teenager.

For Silas, I hope that class sizes are small enough that he doesn't get lost in the crowd. I know that teachers make an effort to pay attention to every student, even when it's hard to do so, but I worry that he'll miss out on the joys of connecting not just with the teachers, but with the other students. I hope he makes great, lifelong friends he can skip class with (once in a great while!) to head out to the lake, and friends he can call when a girl breaks up with him (since his mother would, of course, never understand). I hope he gets in trouble for texting a friend during Spanish class and I hope he calls me late on Friday nights to get a ride home from the football games. I want Silas to learn new and exciting things in high school, I want him to discover things he's passionate about, but I also want him to discover friendship and fun along the way.

Zoë Abel is a lifelong Ashlander. She started discovering friendship and fun way back at Lincoln Elementary School and it's something she's never forgotten to do. You can contact her at

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