Brett Rants

High School Academic Clubs

I Shall Try To Stay Focused

A Newspaper Photo from back in the day, detailing the winners from my High School, consisting of six individuals, myself included, two winners not shown

1983 National Merit Scholarship Commendation

First off, let us (and by us, I mean, me) be clear, I received no Scholarship. What I received (and to the best of my knowledge what everyone else received) was a simple piece of embossed paper (I assume, as I no longer have a copy) with a sticker type seal affixed. It meant next to nothing. And I haven't got the slightest idea how I earned it. It certainly wasn't based on my Grade Point Average. So, likely it was test based.

Anyway, above is an exacting (and I do mean exacting) recreation of a newspaper clipping.

And as follows are some random details concerning the individuals pictured (and/or not pictured, as there were two more recipients than those shown, or so states the caption), presented in no particular order.
So, here's that Car Crash Story, as told by a highly disinterested second (and at times, third) hand observer, thirty years after the fact.

I had been away washing dishes, camping, and paddling canoes at summer camp, earning an insanely paltry amount after expenses were deducted for a summer's worth of work. I would never do that again. Anyway, the day after my return, I called the one, who informed me the other had died. I had been gone for a little over two months, so I assumed the event had taken place weeks earlier. And I asked him if he wanted to play. Well, apparently, he had literally just returned from his best friend's funeral... or at least, who I believe he would have called his best friend, having been playing with him (or so, I was led to believe) all summer long.

Summer of Fun → Tragic Death → Emotional Funeral → Heartless Phone Call

And that's when (in his grief, no doubt) he informed me of his Death Wish Preferences. Being who I am, I let it roll off my back. I mean, it was the grief talking, right? And though we had been friends for many a year, this was the second complete summer I had gone missing, having been grounded a previous summer for something like eight weeks for "Having a Bad Attitude" and doing such things as may encourage others to make such a diagnosis. Anyway, after the grounding, I had called him up and that time he had remarked, "I didn't know we were still friends." And ironically enough, he had spent that summer (once again, as I understand it) playing with yet another, who too had soon moved away. So, like, he was not having a good run of it. And after hearing all the cool stories of events shared with others, I was more than a bit jealous and could see his point of view.

Anyway, back to the National Merit Scholarship thingie, not counting the girls, four out of five of us guys were fairly closely aligned: i.e. in another universe, it is easy to see us sitting around a table playing some cut-throat game against one another. Throw in the odd man out (or throw out the odd man in), while adding that trio of girls (and possibly a few more) and we could have had ourselves some fun. We (in my ever so humble opinion) would certainly have been better off playing easier (more popular) games with more people.

And then, just like the girls, there were plenty of guys I would have thought equal to our intellect. So, I have no idea how the award was decided. But since I really slammed those standardized tests and was sent off to take more than one of them, I guess those were the competitions... and that I did pretty well.

Death & Destruction

They say bad things happen in threes, right?

Well, the third death in the series (a highly inaccurate statement) arose several years later, involved alcohol, a motorcycle, and a barbed wire fence, which was hit at great speed by a (likely) unhelmeted rider. But as the incident is deserving of a write-up all it's own, I will simply say that for most of my adult life this was the only person I ever mourned... and then, my father died.

The other death (the second death in the series) happened on the very last day of my junior year. I did not know the individual, know of him, or really, hear any stories about him after his demise except, you know, how it happened.

On the last day of school (as the story goes) two friends decided to swim across the lagoon (since filled in). In the middle, they decided to touch bottom (once again, as the story goes). And the one came up and the other did not. I have spent many a moment wondering about his last moments, diving to the bottom, touching, almost out of breath, turning around, pushing off... but instead of going anywhere, his feet sticking, sinking down into the muck, vacumn sealed, with no leverage to pull out, just stuck, thirty feet below the surface, the sunlight just barely tinkling through. I see the sun as rays, his body floating, now. He was dead long before anyone knew what happened... or maybe, someone, was already waiting for them on the other side.

There were lots of flashing lights as the buses pulled away, after a rumor filled delay.

And the ordeal made the Six O'clock News.

But a week later it was hardly worth talking about.

This death stuck with me in a way the other guy with his mundane car crash never did.

And I never even knew the guy's name.

Still, just floating in the water, sun streaking by... or thrashing about madly, until the last of the bubbles depart.

Yeah, I kind of feel bad being so cavalier about the entire thing. But like, how many have starved to death during the time it has taken you to read this page? You can say you care. But all evidence points to the contrary. Heck, let's face it, watching folks die (even if only fictional people) is most likely among your favorite forms of entertainment.

So, sorry if I sound jaded. It's just that I am.

Or would you prefer the story was never told? Or at least, not told in a f'ing page that's supposed to be about High School Academic Clubs?

In Reference To Preceeding Text.  Black on White Concept Sketch.  Sun Rays in Upper Left Corner.  Face with hair floating about, eyes toward the sky

Album Cover
Concept Art


So, like, do you remember High School? Are you in High School? Could you not get enough of Math Tests? Can you not get enough of Math Tests? Well, if so, there's a club for that in which one travels to other High Schools at night or over the weekend, you know, when you could be doing something other than School Work and you take a Math Test.

Fun Stuff!

I was an over-achiever, which is really not correct. What is correct is that I was going to take the hard road as being the better road, without realizing the easy road was going to be a lot, well, easier to travel down; and hence, I'd probably enjoy life a lot more and go way further.


The first or second day of class, the teacher (wonderful guy) mentioned Mathletes and some degree of those mentioned (and/or pictured) above decided to join.

It was pointless.

It was stupid.

I got a Letter and a Pin. And when the teacher presented them to me, he was more than a bit disgusted, as I had stopped going to meets months before. Well, I'd gotten mono during my Senior Year, which allowed me to skip the final two months of High School, Prom included. So, who really knows how much that factored in. But at some point, I think I just stopped going to Mathlete Meets. And that was that.

Like I said, it was boring. It was stupid. And my faith in the system was rapidly faltering.
If you're a sinner and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're a sinner and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're a sinner and you know it,
But you'd rather Burn in Hell for All Eternity than change a single f'ing thing about your life...
If you're a sinner and you know it clap your hands.
There were lots of forces pushing me onto the straight and narrow:
And on the other side, we had:
And that's a deadly combination.

Any-the-way, Mathletes could have been cool if we (as in, our team) had the slightest bit of Team Spirit or we used the outings as a Socializing Event. But we did not... nor, as far as I could tell, did anyone else.

In all the meets I went to, I never spoke to anyone from another school. Sure, blame me. I was the shy kid who wasn't about to start a conversation with anyone ever. But so was everyone else.

And let's face it. In the end, we're talking about Extra Curricular Math Tests and the sort of person drawn to that sort of activity was often enough willing to do a fair bit of Extra Curricular Cramming so as to ensure a high score. And interrupting them seemed a bit rude if not downright unsportsmanlike.

Math Not Math

I learned too much math in High School and not enough. And by that, I mean I spent far too much time working computational problems and not enough time learning about the more obscure fields of math, which really aren't all that obscure at all: I mean, if you want to know the real problem with both Mathletes and High School Math in general, it has to do with the tests. And it really is as simple as that. Spend the same amount of time on math but don't bother to test anyone on anything (and therefore, for the most, ignore that part of math which concerns itself with rote computation); and suddenly, one can start teaching math.

But seriously, all those smart girls who were just as geeky as me and not a single date? I just wasn't working the room: fool that I am, was, and ever shall be.

Speech Team

I was not on the Speech Team.

I do not respect debate, as it idealizes Argument over Answers.

But if I had to guess (something I am more than willing to do, just name the date, my calendar is free), I would assume Speech Team would have been more beneficial to my psyche: Social Anxiety and Fear of Public Speaking being fairly definitive and real obstacles to The Good Life.

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Actaully, Drama Club (or whatever it's called, maybe, The Theatrical Society) would have been the best bet. It would have been helpful to learn Social Manipulation at its artful finest.

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