I was a teacher for over seven years and mostly taught first grade. My first year of teaching was in 1998. That group of first graders is now juniors in high school. It’s amazing to see their changes over the past 11 years. Braea Tilford was, and still is, one of my most favorite students. She was smart, friendly and was eager to learn during my first years of teaching.
I recently ran in Braea at the HBCU Conference. No longer little, we looked at each other eye to eye. Most people looking at the two of us together would have never believed that I taught her so long ago. Seeing her made me think about high school then and now – and my how things have changed.
I graduated high school in 1994. Back then, when you wanted to give somebody some information, you wrote on a piece of paper and tried to sneak the other person a note either in class or the hallway. Sometimes it said something as simple as “do you like me? __yes __no” You’d try to fold the piece of paper as small as possible and would sometimes decorate the outside. Now, these kids send text messages and use instant messenger. You can send a note to one person, or 100 people with just the click of a button.
Back in the day, you found out all the juicy information about a person by receiving your yearbook at the end of the year. You laughed at the pictures you’d forgotten had been taken and loved reading the messages your friends would leave you. (if creative enough, you’d put hearts around your crushes and blacken the eyes of your enemies) Now, everybody has a Myspace, Facebook and a Twitter page. You can know what somebody is doing every five minutes if they decided to tell you. There’s no long anticipation, all you have to do is click the refresh button on your computer.
Back then, when you knew you weren’t supposed to be talking to a boy, you would drag the phone (attached to the phone cord) to the nearest closet and whisper as quietly as possible. You’d sometimes have a code word for the person so nobody else around would be in your business. You thought you were big time when you called someone on three-way without the other person knowing. Now, everybody has a cell phone so you canhave a phone conversation any and everywhere your heart desires. Instead of whispering, most people talk as loud as possible and everyone around can tell you what is being said.
Back in the day, you’d pull out that camera to take pics of all your friends. Once you had transportation, you’d go to a Walgreens to drop off the photos and come back a week later to see them. Half of them may have not even turned out, but you took the time to place the photos in the pages of the plastic photos albums they would give you. Now, as soon as you click a picture in your digital camera or with you camera phone, you can see it, emailed it, print it or post it on the web – instantly!
Back in the day, when you had a favorite tune, you’d sit by the radio all day waiting for it to come on. As soon as you heard it you’d press “record” so that you could have it on your mix cassette tape.
Back then, you could go to school without worrying about being shot. Back then, Grippos and a Big Red were the ultimate snack. Back in the day, the dollar movie really only cost a dollar.
Back them we thought the smallest things meant the end of the world. Who would have known that those were the easy days?!
M.Y. April 2009