A news story, a yearbook, a shock

A news story, a yearbook, a shock
Former Penn State University President, Graham Spanier (second from left) was Sports Editor of his high school newspaper.

Many people say your years in  high school are some of the best years of your life.

Friends, clubs, sporting events, dances -- then usual array of stuff.

I don't think of my high school days often.  There's just not a reason to.  Every so often when Brian Ross of ABC News airs a report, I'll recall my days as a freshman when he was a senior and editor of Shoreline, the school paper at Highland Park High School.

But that changed with the onslaught of coverage of the scandal at  Penn State.  It just took a while for it to sink in.

I am not sure exactly when it happened, but I recall having a beer, or maybe a Scotch, while watching the nightly news with yet more coverage of the Penn State scandal.

Again?  Yep, we love seeing heroes fall from grace.

We love conflict, we love the Penn State story.

And then it hit me.  No sooner did Brian Williams mention the name of Penn State's ousted president, Graham Spanier, did it hit me.

Son-of-a-bitch, I thought.  I went to school with him.  We were on the school paper together.  He was Sports Editor.  Yes, I know, there's comedy in that.

All of a sudden the Penn State story hit home.  It's probably not the kind of thing Highland Park High School will celebrate.  Hell, they just got over Steven Glass, and now this.  Set one less place at homecoming.

As I dug out my yearbook from 1966, I found Spanier's pictures -- the usual senior portrait, one for debate -- and one for Shoreline -- the high school paper.

And nestled around the photos was the "Senior Ballot" -- the place where such dubious honors were bestowed -- Prettiest eyes, biggest flirt, most school spirit, most talented -- and most likely to succeed.  Spanier did not win any.

Graham Spanier's high school senior picture

Spanier's senior picture in his high school yearbook.

So now, 46 years after graduating high school, Spanier has his recognition.  Indictments for perjury, obstruction of justice, endangering the welfare of children and criminal conspiracy.

And now, 46 years later, I'm recalling my high school days. I don't recall Spanier much, except as being fairly quiet and low keyed, which for a sports editor is an unusual trait.  But what the story about his plummet from the perch of the academic throne in University Park, PA does tell me is you just never know about the kid sitting next to you in English, or the kids who spent all his or her time in the theater department.

High school kids like to idolize the popular kids.  As adults, we idolize those who make it big -- on the playing field, in the board room, or perhaps at a major university.

But what is making it big all about if it's done in a closet filled with skeletons.  Spanier has showed us that.

Think of it -- perjury, obstruction of justice, endangering the welfare of children and criminal conspiracy -- that will be Spanier's legacy, not the good he may have done for the academic community at  Penn State.

It's hard to think how someone can be president of a major - -or any -- university and do what Spanier is charged with doing.

Amazing, Just Amazing.

I guess there are two lessons to be learned.

One -- Success isn't always what you think it is.

Two -- Save your high school yearbooks.  You never know when they'll come in handy.





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