I was not much of a joiner in high school. In fact, I'm not much of a joiner now, but I can mingle with folks alright. In high school, you would not have seen me within four feet of a "service project," because not only was I not a joiner, but I was also pretty much a jerk.
This was brought home to me this week when one of my former classmates, whom I think the world of now, told me that the nickname for the crowd I ran with was "the mean boys."
That is one reason that this week of doing service with fellow Roeper alumni on behalf of Detroit, where I grew up, is so important to me. I have struggled for some time at being a better person than I was when growing up. I have so far to go, but at least I don't think I am in the "mean boys" crowd anymore.
Now, still the kind of person who does not get involved in group efforts, I was given the opportunity to take part in a series of meaningful acts with others. So, instead of quietly supporting from the sidelines and begging off with protests of being "too busy," I committed to coming back home to Detroit and working.
It has meant a lot to me. For me, it is a marker of the kind of person I want to be -- the kind who pitches in and helps.
And it is a testament to the power of the ideas behind The Roeper School, which seems to mold such people even in spite of themselves. Roeper showed great patience with my and my crowd's immaturity.
Roeper believes in the best within all children. I can remember a story a former administrator told me. A particular student had . . . well, let's say the chemistry lab needed a lot of cleanup and was smoldering a bit. (At least that's how he told the story.) The student's punishment? He was assigned to be in charge of the security of the chem lab for the rest of the year.
Once, I can recall that one student used a racial epithet against another. Classes were canceled and we worked together on racism.
Yes, Roeper is that kind of place.
To all the people who comprise the Roeper community, and especially to Jenny Hansell, Pam Victor, Amy Voigt, and Asa Watten who really got the Roeper Alumni Service Corps off the ground, thank you for this chance to work at being a better person.