“I often wish that I could save everyone, but I’m a dreamer.”
- Scarface, “Smile”
As one of my first students, I remember you as a portly one.
Always dressed in funky colors, and had style for days whenever you weren’t in uniform.
Never really in a gang, but had a tag name (think I didn’t know about that, Trons?)
I’m almost certain, though, that you wouldn’t get into that other mess others were into. You had dreams of doing really great things. Maybe a lawyer, doctor, or whatever other profession your parents encouraged from you. Both of them were there.
And I remember my first year at your school, thinking how nervous but idealistic I was about the prospect of teaching my first batch of students. I remember cultivating that sense of urgency with all of you, that time was of the essence, and that what you’re doing and see around you doesn’t necessarily have to be yours. With that, I learned to push you hard, because I wanted to extract the best out of you.
We battled, and battled hard.
All in the name of seeing you reach your highest potential.
Even though I didn’t get to teach you your 8th grade year, I’d see you on my floor, on the block, with your friends, always with the nicest kicks (sneakers), hanging out with girls.
But graduating. With parents in tow. Parents who I got really familiar with, as I called them about twice a month (once for you, once for your sister). So proud.
They say life’s short, but no one ever defines what short is. You never expect that this would pertain to someone like you, Ruben. You weren’t supposed to have this happen to you. You were supposed to mature out of this phase. You, more than anything, were caught up in the wrong place, wrong time.
And now you don’t even get a chance to be at the right place. You’re not getting that second chance. Hopefully you give your other friends a chance to see their lives as indispensable.
Ruben Redman, rest in peace. Stay good.
Mr. Vilson, who seriously hasn’t had the greatest week ever …