I always felt partial to the Class of 2003.
They were my very first freshman at Oak Hills when I was a first year teacher. We were all freshmen, together. When they graduated, I felt like part of me had made it, too.
This morning, I got an email with the subject line: "Student, Class of 2003" and I knew it would be bad. I hoped it wouldn't be too bad, but I've seen enough of these emails to know it's never good news.
I saw who it was, and my heart sank.
There are a few students I've met in the past 13 years that I can say I know, without a doubt, will change the world. I've been lucky to have a few. Ones that I knew would go so far. They had so much talent, and confidence, and dreams up in the sky and I just knew they would make it.
Dulcy was one of those.
I immediately teared up and had to pull it together for the last 10 minutes of class. A student asked if I was okay, and I said, "No...not really." And I told them, because I figured they might as well know why I was shaking.
You never quite get used to going to funerals for students. They sit in my room, every day, for 54 minutes. We laugh, we get frustrated, we figure stuff out, we think some more. Sometimes they drive me nuts. Sometimes I drive them nuts. And then another June comes, and another round of scantrons and a picture I take in the back of my room and then the door shuts and it's over. They walk out the door, and they move on. And I wish them well. I always wish them well.
I decided I'd better do something productive during my planning period, which was the next one. We're in the middle of renovations and we have to pack up our rooms. That's it! I'll mindlessly put books in a box! I can do that! I can totally do that!
Except I had no packing tape. I had to get packing tape from the office, and I was all red and puffy and snotty.
So I pulled it together and headed to the office. I asked for the tape from the secretary in the main office...the one who sent the email about Dulcy. She looked at me and I knew she knew I was upset. And I asked for the tape and then I started to feel the sting in my eyes, so I said, "I'm sorry...it's just the email....I...I'm pretty sad."
And I thought I'd be okay.
But she looked at me and said, "Yes, when her cousin came in to tell us the news and arrangements, she wanted us to tell the teachers, and she said she knew Miss Arcaro was her favorite teacher, and...."
And that was it. That was the moment I sobbed in the main office.
I grabbed the tape and apologized and ran off to get it out. And then pull myself together, because another round of kids were coming into my room when that bell rang...a life I lead by bells, by hundreds of kids coming in and out of my life, each one having an impact and each one teaching me something.
I will always remember Dulcy and her smile and her voice and her desire to change the world, and how she was well on her way to doing just that.