For many years my adopted motto was:

"Students are lamps to be lighted, Not cups to be filled. "

Richard Barrett and Mike McHone served as president and
vice-president of the science club during their senior year
and had also been two of my best lab assistants.
On the afternoon just prior to Commencement exercises
they came to my room bearing a package and urged me to
open it. Inside was a small kerosene lamp and a card that
said: "ro our favorite lamplighter." After which they had
simply signed their names.
I have kept that lamp on a prominent shelf in my study
with the card underneath it and still regard it as one of my
most special gifts of all time.


For many years the high school faculty gathered in the
library on the last day of school to munch on favorite
snacks, to hear a few last minute announcements from
the administration and most importantly to honor those
retiring members.
The spring I retired I could not help wondering what gift
they would have for me. I surely did not need anything,
least of all a crystal bowl.
What I did get was a bound book of more than 100 letters
from former students, NSTA colleagues, AFS students,
community leaders and many others.  Howard Graham,
head of the history department, had initiated the project.
With the help of Bill to provide names and addresses and
Ramona Hite, typing teacher, they had put this all together
with absolute secrecy. No amount of money could have
purchased such a gift. Our school colors are green and
gold. The book cover is dark green and is inscribed with my name
in gold. Since Howard had requested that all
letters be sent flat and not folded, the finished product is
beautiful to behold.


I must share two contributions from my book of letters.
One is a poem written by Douglas Branch. He was one of
the most gifted students I ever taught. He assisted with
my classes during my absence and later became a prac-
ticing psychiatrist in San Francisco.


for Elaine Ledbetter

A whisper from space
Reverberates through
Little minds, my children
Shudder with wonder, eyes large
As I explain
The whisper is the echo
Of the distant Creation
Seeing they partly understand
I sense Elaine beside me.
I struggle with a line
The poetic imagery confused
Until I flick away the verbiage
Sunlight glinting off a distant cloud
I whisper the words
And sense Elaine within me.
The task overwhelms
My staff members, reluctant
A distant whisper
Leads me to find
The essence
I explain
Calming, simplifying
The work gets done
Everyone's proud
I think "Of course"
And suddenly sense
That in a distant way
Elaine is me.

-- Douglas E. Branch, 1980

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