The ACS Inside Out blog is excited to present Walking the Halls, a summer blog series featuring eight stories, about eight alumni, written by eight current students. This project began out of the curiosity of students in our English 11 class, and a teacher who knew how to make the most of it.
Mrs. Dani deJong explains:
“I saw a post on the school Facebook page a while back that generated lots of traffic. It was a picture of a group of girls in the hall down in the science wing and people were invited to guess what year the picture was from in order to win a prize. People did guess and someone must have won a prize, but what my English 11 students noticed when I showed them the post, was the conversation that erupted around the picture. Comments about where time had gone, the crazy hair styles, who had last seen whom abounded. We then pulled out the entire yearbook stash from the library and spent a great period looking at the things the alumni did all those years ago. It generated a lot of questions: What were they doing? Why was that happening? We decided that there were a lot of memories out there generated from the halls of this building. And, since the halls are soon going to be brought down in the renovation, we wondered how we could keep these stories in a more permanent way. We figured the best way was to ask the people in the photos to tell us their stories. We invited a news anchor/reporter in from CTV to tell us how to conduct a good interview and we set out to find our stories. Some are funny, some are sad, but they all have meaning to the people that walked the halls of ACS.”
Part Six: RUNNING IN THE HALLS
Alumni: Glenda Konrad (nee Luymes) | As Told to: Katelyn Luymes
We all have moments in our lives that changed us in some way; some can be specifically pin pointed, like your first day of school or the moment you say “I do,” but others are more gradual, and suddenly, without even realizing it, you’re different. I’ve been lucky enough to experience both the sudden and the slow; each event shaping me into the person I am today. Looking back, I’ve realized that high school is four years of changes. And, while the halls themselves may have stayed the same, each person walking them has changed.
I remember so vividly the reluctance I felt as I laced up my runners, dreading the next 80 minutes. PE was no longer mandatory by grade 11, but somehow there I was, still going through the motions: putting on my baggy shorts and t-shirt, slowly tying my running shoes, and sitting on the blue base line in the gym, awaiting Mr. Boersma’s instructions. After years of forced Physical Education, I had vowed to never set foot in the gym again, deciding then and there that I was simply not an athlete. However, due to scheduling conflicts, few elective options, and a strong hatred towards sewing, my promise fell through.
I was back in the gym, preparing myself for the worse.
My classmates started to gather around, a collective mass of athletes, fitness experts, and sports fans. I scanned the faces I’d grown up with, quickly realizing that, aside from my friend, the entire class was made up of boys. I felt even more apprehensive as it dawned on me that I was the least coordinated and athletic person in the class, by a long shot. Even my friend, who was not the best athlete, enjoyed PE. What I thought would be a bad class suddenly became unbearable. Suddenly I felt like I was back in elementary school, scoring goals on my own net, jumping straight into the high jump bar, and missing simple baskets.
Mr. Boersma eventually joined us in his typical positive fashion, beginning the class with devotions and instructions. I had assumed that since it was still so early in the semester, we’d take it easy, playing tennis or maybe even volleyball; I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of either, but they sure beat what was in store for us that day.
For a moment I concluded that I was doomed, completely and utterly hopeless. My apprehension enveloped me, I couldn’t think of anything but the teachers who used to applaud when I crossed the finish line, not because I was a victor, but simply because I had finished in one piece. The pity clap I was used to hearing rang through my ears, momentarily causing me to rack my brain for any excuse to get me out of running the extended loop. But, I wasn’t one to give up. Not then, and not now. Determined to do my best, I stood up with the rest of my classmates, solemnly walking towards the starting line.
The first run was just as grueling as expected, but, to my enjoyment, there was no line of my peers obligatorily cheering me on as I rounded the corner into the parking lot and crossed the makeshift finish line. In fact, while I was understandably exhausted after running 2400 meters, I wasn’t defeated.
Eventually, over the course of a few weeks, the death march from the warm gym to the cool Abbotsford air transformed into a reluctant stride. Each time I lined up on the white starting line, waiting for Mr. Boersma’s call, I was more relaxed, ready to take on the route that I had previously feared.
Gradually, without even realizing it, I was enjoying PE. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I wasn’t the fastest, strongest, or most coordinated. I was fit and healthy, truly enjoying myself despite my previous apprehension and dread. I had finally stopped comparing my ability to everyone else’s, and focused on the actual progress I had made.
My subtle conversion to the world of fitness, however, didn’t just stop at the end of the 80 minute PE class.
With a few words of encouragement from Mr. Boersma and my friend, I had signed up for the 10 kilometer Sun Run in downtown Vancouver. I was aware that I’d be pushed more than I was used to. The reality of how long and tiresome the run would be hung around in the back of my mind, but I was determined to run the race, to persevere, to not give up in the face of adversity.
And so, I headed down to Vancouver with my friend and her mom, ready to give it a go and have fun, not too worried about how fast or properly I ran. The Sun Run was about me and my health and my goals: no one else’s.
The race itself was tough, as it was my first ever 10 kilometer run, but I felt great. I never could have imagined that I’d be able to run 10 kilometers back in grade 11, let alone enjoy myself in the process. But that day in the middle of spring, I was a champion. I was on top of the world. I was an athlete.
In high school, we’re still becoming the people who we will eventually grow into. The four years that we walk the halls are some of our most awkward (trumped only by the cruel middle school days) but we emerge a little more ready to tackle the world in which we dive into after graduating. We can take the glorious growing pains for granted, slowly letting the memories of our younger selves fade, resembling the photos we swore we’d always keep, or we can reminisce about our lanky and embarrassing selves running around the block. I choose to keep the memories alive.
I’ve now run the Sun Run seven times, and each time in mid-April I take a step back, remembering my first days in PE 11 and the fear and apprehension that gripped me. As I ran with my three children and husband this year, I was filled with the same pride and sense of accomplishment that I felt in grade 11. I felt fit and healthy as I crossed the finish line. As I ran, pushing my daughter in her stroller, I felt overwhelmingly grateful that I was able to run.