Sunday, May 18, 2008

Leif - Graduation from Junior High School

It's that time of the year for graduations. Since I've been writing about Leif's junior high years, here are two photos of him posing in his bright red NJHS gown. His playful spirit was going strong. It was a milestone he looked forward to, and the day we took these photos, we also took a lot of other funny ones horsing around. NJHS in Highland Park, Illinois, was good for him. It was one of the few places that not only stretched his mind but offered students a selection of assignments that they could choose from, allowing him to find something that really engaged him.

I do remember one language arts class that didn't provide as much choice, and he was required to read books he didn't care for at all, one being the award winning, "The Witch of Blackbird Pond," and he hated having to speculate about characters' motivations. He just wanted to enjoy a good story.

It's a shame he didn't like math, because he had a truly outstanding scientific mind, and if he had been motivated to overcome the math aversion, he would probably have been a lot happier if he had gone into science.

Leif's junior high years weren't all happy, though. He suffered from a bad case of acne and some nasty kids called him "pizza face." I didn't learn that until many years later when he was an adult and told me that he was still hesitant to try to meet women because that had so damaged his self image.

He had friends in junior high, particularly Chris and Robert, but wasn't a popular kid. It's often hard for highly intelligent kids to find friends. Other kids are often intimidated, jealous, or think they are weird. Luckily Leif did have two good friends and they lived close to us on our street, so that unlike some kids who don't get to see their friends often outside of school, Leif found it easy to get together with Robert and Chris. They participated in Leif's radio-controlled car adventures.

It was in junior high that Leif also tried skate boarding, though he never became adept at it and I have no photos of him on the board.

He liked computer games, back in those days of simpler games and no internet. We had two computers, an Apple II+ and an Atari 1040STf. We had a large number of games on floppy disks, and he loved playing car racing games, sci-fi games, maze games, some role-playing games, and some fighting games. One was a very silly sword play game in which the objective was to lop off the head of the opponent. It sounds violent, but it was so silly that it was funny. Leif never lost his love of computer games and became more and more interested in them and role-playing games.

All told, Leif's junior high years at NJHS were good ones. He blossomed there, and set the stage for success and good looks in high school.

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