25th reunion: Should I stay or should I go now?

September 12, 2016

AQUANET NATION: There was a lot of hair in the early '90's! My senior yearbook photo.
AQUANET NATION: There was a lot of hair in the early ’90’s! My senior yearbook photo.

by Melanie Nicholas

The Lee High School Class of 1991 is planning its 25 year reunion in October, and they are looking for a local celebrity to help them get the word out!  Apparently, I am the most famous person they could find to rep the mighty Lee Rebels. Which is kind of funny, since I skipped a lot of my time there.

No, it’s not what you are thinking – I am not a secret genius that jetted off to college early. By the time my senior year rolled around, I was working almost full time and only going to school in the mornings. There were lots of days when picking up an extra shift or hanging out with my older friends was a lot more appealing than geometry. Apologies, Mr. Borrego.

Apparently, you can’t have too many unexcused absences and still walk the stage. So I made up my time in the office under the watchful eyes of Principal Don Mason and was allowed to graduate. High school just wasn’t my jam. It wasn’t awful or anything, it was just that step to take before going to college. For me, high school was a lot more about the friends I made than the education and experiences I was supposed to be receiving. I skipped proms, plays, senior dinners, pep rallies, project graduation and classes. I only went to one high school football game, wore only one homecoming mum. Wait! Now that I think of it, I even skipped graduation. My impacted wisdom teeth made me very sick. Talk about irony.

But I didn’t miss out on everything. I participated in student government – I helped Susan Alexander hang a campaign sign when she ran for student body president. I was also a member of the National Honor Society, there’s even a yearbook photo to prove my academic prowess! And I enjoyed competing in debate and vocational education competition.

But mostly, I just met a lot of really great people. I think high school, like some jobs, becomes endurable because of the relationships you make. The upcoming reunion has gotten me thinking about some of the people I hold dearest in my heart from back in the day. I have lost touch with some of you, folks like David Faught. When I started at Lee my sophomore year, I was new to the Lee High cluster system. I knew absolutely no one. I sat by David in Miss Goodin’s honor’s English class, and I was the only girl there dressed like an extra from a Whitesnake video. But David and Teresa (Davis) Hansen didn’t let my pointy boots and giant bangs get in the way, and befriended me my first day. If I didn’t tell you then, let me say that I am eternally grateful. Teresa and I are still friends, but David … well, I did a little Internet stalking and I think he is now David Faught, Ph.D., teaching in the English and modern languages department at Angelo State University. There are other people I miss that are evading my detective skills. Brian Pendleton, Jim Edmunds, Shari Cargile, Kellye Hearne – where are you guys?

I have been going through my yearbook, looking at all these beautiful young faces. There sure was a lot of hair in there, mullets and bangs and spiral perms for days! So many of you have not changed! Mike Loftis may have trimmed his “party in the back” locks from his football star days, but he is still the cutest boy. I can say that, I’m friends with his wife. Facebook helps me stay in touch with lots of you! I love seeing your lives, your children and all the ways you have all grown. Did you know Trey Smith, Jacque (Saunders) Lanning, Robin (Dutton) Cookson and Cody Shumake have all had children in the last few years? My uterus is so jealous! And two of my favorite high school couples, Neil Renton and Tracy (Pierce) Renton and Kathy (Hale) Firkins and Justin Firkins, are still together with beautiful families of their own.

There are several other people I graduated with that I consider real celebrities. Roshauna “Shaun” Niblett is now a minister, sharing her unshakeable faith with the world. You can find her Sundays at the Community Worship Center service held at the MLK Jr. Center or on YouTube. I follow her devotions on Instagram. I ran into Robert Wiley, or just plain “Wiley” as he was known in debate class, at the Austin airport a few years ago. Wiley has become an attorney specializing in labor law and owns his own successful practice in Dallas. He was named a rising star in employment law by Texas Super Lawyers and is active in politics and civil rights. And if you thought that a contestant on Jeopardy! looked strangely familiar in March, well, that was our superbrain salutatorian and all around nice guy Todd Giese!

There are so many other folks I enjoyed knowing all those years ago! If you want to catch up, here’s the chance! The LHS Class of 1991 reunion is planned for Oct. 7 and 8. If you’re interested in a little Friday night football and some KD’s barbecue, it will be a fun weekend. Chris Phillips, Celina (Madrid) Leyva, Suzann Haechten and Tonja (Mansfield) Loftis are in charge of planning. You can stay up to date with all the information by visiting the Midland Lee High – Class of 1991 Reunion page on Facebook.

Finally, a high school event I want to take part in!

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