My Extracurricular Endeavors …

                       … Possibly Exceeded the ‘Curricular’ Ones
                                                By Jeff Salter 

            Somebody may cry ‘foul’ over this, but to explain what EXTRAs I enjoyed outside of the high school CURRICULUM … I’m pulling some tidbits from a previous post.  Of course, I’ll expand on them a bit.

Tenth Grade
            In 10th grade, as a virtual stranger in SE Iowa (many hundreds of miles away from LA), my most extensive extracurricular attention focused on track – the only season I participated in a school ‘sport’.  I was mediocre in the half-mile run (880 yards) but that’s where they lumped guys who didn’t have any particular talent (like sprints, hurdles, or field events).  What I wanted to do was learn to pole vault, but that team already had a vaulter and they weren’t willing to let anybody try who didn’t already excel at it.  That’s always troubled me, because I really wanted to do it.  Possibly I would’ve been awful … but what would it have hurt to let me TRY?
            My other endeavor that year was co-ed volleyball … which was more of a cheap, group ‘date’ than it was a ‘sport’.  I didn’t have a driver’s license yet and hadn’t started dating, so this was great ‘exposure’ — ha.

Eleventh Grade
            For the next two years, I was back in LA in the same school I’d left after my freshman year.  Long story.  My extracurricular outlet – surprisingly – became ACTING.  [I don’t recall if it was called Speech Club or Drama Club or Thespians — or maybe I was in all three.  Whatever.  Except for a few hard-core debaters (who did nothing else), it was basically the same group of kids in all three groups.]
            When a teacher (whom I liked) solicited volunteers to be in a one-act play, I reluctantly agreed … and was given one of the leading roles!  “School Bus Romance” was a hokey and completely un-memorable play (probably written in the early 1950s).  We performed it on risers in the ‘old’ gym … with no backdrop or ‘set’ other than chairs arrayed to resemble a bus interior.  My performance was only adequate, but – for reasons I can’t explain – I was hooked.

Twelfth Grade
            In my senior year, I was in three productions.  [Hard for me to believe now, because I also dated a lot, took college board exams, carried a full load of course-work … plus worked a Saturday job.  Oh, and I was grounded for a total of six or seven weeks … for various offenses.]

Mimsy Were the Borogroves
            The first was a one-act play we performed at a community venue for competition.  My play, with a cast of four and directed by a student, was “Mimsy Were the Borogroves.”  I played the father.  Not yet 17 and I played a middle-aged man.  Don’t laugh yet — one of the contest judges, a Thespian himself and a community leader I greatly respected, later told me that I showed a “bit of Bogart” in my rendering.

Beauty and the Beast
            That play was hardly done when I took the dual roles of beast and prince in “Beauty and the Beast,” also directed by a student.  Don’t recall how many acts it was.  But we performed it not only at our own school … we took it to a few other schools in the parish [county].  The most fun audiences were the younger grades, because I was actually able to SCARE the little kids with my ‘Beast’ performance.

The Boyfriend
            That play was not quite finished when we began rehearsals for a musical … “The Boyfriend”.  If you’ve seen the movie with Twiggy, forget it:  the real play ‘Boyfriend’ is the play which only appears as snippets IN that movie.  Never mind.
            When I showed up for tryouts, I had no idea of any particular role.  In fact, the odds were against me even getting a role, because three or four times as many kids tried-out as there were spots to fill.  Tryouts were complex and exhaustive, with several stages over many days.  The group got smaller at each level.  Imagine my surprise to find I had a leading role!  A SINGING role … and I was supposed to dance!  Ha.  Imagine shy ole Jeff singing and dancing on stage!
            I had two duets with my leading lady and we were supposed to dance a soft-shoe.  I could never get the hang of the dance steps and it looked awkward as heck.  But ?fate? intervened:  I was in an accident – a horse fell on me (literally) – and I was banged up sufficiently that it was painful even to walk — no way I could continue the dance practice.  But the show had to go on, so the student director and our wonderful faculty advisor just re-wrote the blocking of that scene and I sat while my ‘girlfriend’ danced.  I think it worked better anyway, because if I HAD performed the dance, it would have flopped horribly.
            Looking back on it, I don’t think I did such a great job in my role.  But the entire production was very well received.  It had a large, talented cast and a lot of raw energy and enthusiasm.  We had four or five regular performances and I think we took ‘pieces’ of it elsewhere [this is fuzzy now].

Other Stuff
            In addition to these three plays in a single school year, I was also talked into taking an ‘oral interpretation’ to a regional speech convention.  That convention was a blast and I will forever have wonderful memories of those experiences.
            Oh, yeah, I voluntarily (though unofficially) ‘audited’ our faculty advisor’s speech class for an entire semester.  Even did the assignments and projects.
            When I think of my high school years — the images which encapsulate the most exciting (and beneficial) extra-curricular experiences … were those centered on performing. Pretty weird … for a guy who’s very shy.

Questions
            Which extra-curricular activity did YOU enjoy most?  Was it a one-shot thing … or something you worked on for many of your school years?

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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29 Responses to My Extracurricular Endeavors …

  1. Tonya says:

    Jeff! I love that you were in some plays. Since I personally know you, I can see you putting all you have into it! My extracurricular activites were my friends, music, friends, and music~in no particular order!! LOL! I wasn’t a sports gal or a genius. So I hung with my gal pals.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Tonya. Sounds like you enjoyed music. LOL
      When I look back on those plays, I think I was fortunate to be surrounded by talented kids. But whether I had any potential star power or not, I surely enjoyed those days. Scary? Sure. Nervous? You bet. But very gratifying.

      Like

  2. BettyBookWorm says:

    High school sorority in the mid 70’s was definitely the most important in my Southern city. The ritual began during 9th grade year where the citywide sororities hosted formal dances called “leadouts” . Members were formally introduced; freshmen girls considered as potential members were also invited to see and be seen.
    In June, rush commenced with two weeks of daytime parties, with elaborate themes and handmade invitations. Immediately after pledging, rushees who’d been wined and dined spent the rest of summer and fall in “voluntary servitude” as a “rat”, going to weekly meetings, being yelled at (seriously), making gifts such as pillows emblazened with the sorority Greek letters for members, playing basketball in the inter-sorority league, and writing and executing an elaborate Freshmen Show held only for members.
    The Freshman Show, though grueling, was the best training I ever had in creative processes. We wrote and developed skits and parodies a la Saturday Night Live, including full-fledged musical routines (a black-light number to the song “Shaft” will never be forgotten). And the stakes were high: this 3-hour show was crucial in the members voting to actually initiate us!
    Incredibly, the whole organization was member-led, with little to no adult supervision other than mothers chaperoning the events. After initiation, the whirlwind of activities continued the rest of high school: weekly meetings, dances, trips to amusement parks, spend-the-night parties, weeks at the beach at Spring Break, even “sorority church” once a month on Sundays where we’d visit a church and then eat lunch together.
    Barring the few inevitable conflicts over which girl stole another’s boyfriend (seriously), it was a remarkably harmonious, close-knit group. It may sound lightweight but the girls who ran this organization have gone on to be bank presidents, directors of nursing, businesswomen, engineers, and yes, even writers.

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  3. Lois Grant says:

    I went to a school that was 1st through 12th with 450 students the year that I graduated, consequently sports and clubs were the only extra curricula activities offered. Thanks to my brother Frank, I loved sports and played on the girls basketball team from 7th grade through 11th grade. In the 11th grade during the basketball season I began to experience bouts of hyperventilating during basketball games and would have to breathe into a paper bag to keep from passing out. After this happened several times Mama took me to the doctor who suggested that I quit the team. I did, but it broke my heart as I so wanted to earn a school sweater. Every one of my siblings had earned either a school sweater or jacket during their years in high school. Due to lack of players or interest or something, there was no girls basketball team my senior year, but because I quit mid season, I did not get a school sweater.

    Mama was quite amused with all of the clubs that I joined during my high school years. I was in the FHA (Future Homemakers Assoc), FBLA (Future Business Leaders) Science Club, Library Club, Choir, and Spanish Club. I was in 4-H in grammar school, but not high school. Mama always said that if there had been a FFA (Future Farmers of America) at Lecompte High, I would have joined it also. I was also in our Senior Play and was on the Year Book staff.

    As Mama and Daddy were rather strict, I was not allowed to date until my Junior year of high school and what that means in a small school/small town is that if you are not already matched up with a boy friend, you are dateless. I did date and go steady with a young man during my senior year, but I never saw myself as very attractive in high school. I was very surprised when I started LSU-A to find myself rather popular and was frequently asked out on dates. The dating pool had widen tremendously at that point, but not the strictness of my father. He wanted to know the WHOLE background of every young man that I dated.

    To sum up my high school years, I was friendly and outgoing, but with an inferiority complex a mile wide. I ended up being every boy’s pal and a little bit the class clown. My grades were average. I had an alcoholic father at home that didn’t make inviting friends to the house very appealing. To me my father’s drinking was terrible and that he was out of control, but when I got out into the world a couple of years after high school, I realized that my daddy was a controlled alcoholic. He always was able to work, we had the essentials – roof over our head, clothes, food, bills paid, but he drank up the extra. He was not a mean person and had a lot of good qualities, but when you are a teenager it is heartbreaking. Even with all of that, I enjoyed my high school years and look back at them fondly.

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    • jeff7salter says:

      Sug, I had not known you were such an athlete. What a shame you couldn’t get that final semester in and receive the jacket/letter you had ALREADY earned.
      Gosh, you had a LOT of clubs in your resume. The space below my name in the yearbook was basically blank. Yours would take half a page.
      Interesting about being “every boy’s pal.” I can remember girls like that whom I really “liked” and wished we were more than PALS. I wonder if some of those boys you assumed looked at you as a buddy … might have been thinking about something more.

      Like

  4. Awesome that you were in plays. I love it. AND kudos on the volleyball idea! Great way to snag a date, I would think. I also took debate and speech, (which encompassed drama) but the only play I was ever in was the Latin Wizard of Oz one I already blogged about.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yeah, one of the girls I ‘kinda’ liked up in Iowa was also in that volleyball group. If I’d had a license by that point, perhaps we would’ve dated. Who knows.

      Like

  5. crbwrites says:

    Acting is such great writing prep! I’m impressed.

    Like

  6. Micki Gibson says:

    I really wish my high school’s drama program took off a few years earlier. I don’t think we had a drama teacher until my senior year, but she was a fantastic one. Problem was, I didn’t know it at the time. The year after I graduated the school put on “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and the following year it was “Grease”. I’m not sure how many years that drama teacher was there because she left to teach at the local arts magnet school. The same arts magnet I became a teacher at many years later. The drama department at that school has grown and is one of the best in the state and is led by that same teacher from my high school.

    I never took drama and wish I had. Some of the most vibrant writers I’ve met have had a background in theatre. There’s something special about watching a play or musical, whether it’s Broadway, local community theatre, or even a middle school kid performing in the cafeteria/auditorium.

    Great post, Jeff. I envy your onstage experiences. Your six or seven weeks of grounding…not so much. 😉

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    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Micki.
      I’ve always been glad I participated in the plays. I had a buddy who wanted to participate but he went to one of the tryouts and just absolutely FROZE. He later asked me, “How can you DO that?” I don’t recall what I told him, but I guess it’s a bit like diving into the deep end of the pool. You just hold your breath and leap.
      Funny thing about the groundings. I can’t remember if it was 3 or 4 separate episodes. But the longest — ONE FULL MONTH — I actually deserved. I don’t think I deserved the other ones. But, back then, there was no appeals court. Ha.
      We had a fantastic teacher for ‘drama’ who also taught English. I owe her a LOT.

      Like

  7. jbrayweber says:

    Great post, Jeff.
    I was in Theater Tech, but because the teacher was also the teacher for Drama, we ended up doing more acting than tech-ing. I was kind of bummed because I really like to do the behind-the-scenes stuff. On the flip side, I’m very, how should I say it, outgoing. I’ll perform for you any day. Problem was, and is, I don’t do “lines” real well. I’m more of a improvisor. Thinking on my feet got me an A in that class, despite how I completely forgot all my lines in a two person act. The only thing I remember is that I was a wife who had been slowly poisoning my wheelchair bound husband.

    But I digress. My after school extracurricular activity was dance. I was in the drill team. It was a real challenge. Not the dance part, I was pretty good at that. But the part about staying on the team. Seems some jealous tarts wanted to see me fail, so they spread rumors about me. It was the 80’s and I was into hair metal bands and head-banging boyfriends with long hair. But I proved to be resilient. I may have had a taste for the wild side, but I made excellent grades, was respectful, and could dance.

    Oh, and I was in FFA, too. Raised a turkey and some rabbits. How’s that for mixing it up?

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Wow, Jenn … that IS quite a range: head-banging bands and waising wabbits. LOL

      Yeah, I can imagine that the way cliques ran in H.S. that people could be ostracized quickly and permanently — almost like they’d been ‘erased’ — by some willful and horrid girls. And did I specify ‘girls’? Yeah. Because, in my experience, boys didn’t act like that. The boys’ grouped along the lines of activities: sports, academics, social status, etc. But some of the girls would inflict wounds and draw blood … just because they enjoyed the sport.

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      • jbrayweber says:

        It boiled down to a friend not making the team and she and her mother began the rumor mill. Once started, it ‘s hard to stop. I also had other girls trying to pick fights with me. What they didn’t know was, once you picked a fight, I WOULD finish it. Almost always, I crushed them with intimidation.
        That said, boys can be spiteful, too. Yes, I had a boy try to spread a nasty rumor about me. I don’t know how damage it did, but if people knew me they knew it was all a lie. *sigh* High school drama, I soooo don’t want my daughters to go through that.

        Jenn!

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      • jeff7salter says:

        Well, Jenn, very true — kids of both genders can be cruel. It’s especially bad in current times with texting [i.e., ‘sexting’] of photos and slander/libel.
        I was so glad when my own kids finally got through school — relatively unscathed …though my son did get picked on because he hadn’t had his growth spurt until very late.
        now I worry about my grandkids.
        No, I would not want to re-live any of my younger years, even though mine were relatively harmonious. Just wouldn’t want to ‘do-over’.
        I do wish I felt as good, physically, as I did when much younger though. LOL

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  8. Wish there were a few videos (*cough* films. Hey, I’m telling my age too!) around of all this! Bet you were fantastic! True enthusiasm comes across like nothing else.

    Our theatrical department in Michigan actually allowed students to gain experience to enter real theatrical production companies, from acting and singing, to set and costume design, special effects and makeup. I loved set design and lighting. Still remember feeling like I was in an inner clique when I could talk ‘redheads’ and ‘blonds’ (red spotlights, clear and yellow spotlights) with lighting crews! Mashed the wrong ‘nail’ a few times while building sets. And never missed a Shakespeare Festival in Quebec!

    In Mississippi theatre didn’t take on any real effect until Jr. college and college, but good direction by faculty meant in later years it offered some great career openings. (A boy my daughter dated actually got a scholarship to Disney’s special effects and special make-up school in Florida. He learned how to make the resin molds for masks, design and paint the rubber units — some pretty scary horror stuff!– and apply special effects make-up. Never thought I’d admit jealousy of a nineteen-yr.-old guy, but there it is! lol)

    Honestly believe the time contraints on a production gave me an even greater love of exacting words. Finding that single word that describes, expresses, touches, motivates, comforts, inspires, cautions, instructs . . . I’m sure you get it by now.

    Great post, Jeff! You just pointed out walking down school’s Memory Lane isn’t completely humiliating!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Runere.
      Actually, I think I’m glad no films exist of those shows of mine. I believe I’d rather have the great memories. If I saw it now, after 43 [ ? ] years, it might be downright depressing. Ha.
      Actually, I’ve seen myself on ‘screen’ — got interviewed quite a few times on TV during my recent library career — and I tend to be super critical. Also, it seems they always left out all the GOOD stuff I said and only ‘ran’ the 20 seconds of stupid expressions.
      Hate not having ‘editorial control’ — LOL
      Your dramatic experiences in Mich. — on stage and behind it — sounds like a lot of fun. I often envied the back stage folks … because they got to enjoy the process and do something very creative but didn’t have to endure the butterflies!

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  9. Hey Jeff! Maybe the reason you were involved in so much performing is that you are not reallly shy! LOL!
    My extra-curricular activities during high school weren’t especially school related. (I did perform in some plays, but other than that, nothing “school related.”) I guess I did BellyDance in a school talent show. Does that count as an extra-curricular school activity? One student told me that their father never attended those shows, but he was going to that year because someone would be Belly-Dancing! LOL! I spent the rest of my time Barrel Racing and Showing my horse. I know that was definitely not school related. :))

    JH!

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    • jeff7salter says:

      No, Janette, I REALLY am shy. I just force myself to do stuff that ‘skeers’ me. Ha.
      I’m stunned that your school allowed a belly dancer! That would have never gotten past the censors in my day and location. Of course, that was considerably before your H.S. years.
      That’s cool that you were a barrel racer. Nanette, my wonderful friend and former co-star, has a wall-full of trophies for horse events, including barrel racing. Nanette is also a writer! And she still has horses … and rides often.

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  10. Nanette says:

    Hey everyone. I had to post on this topic since I was the opposite role in Jeff’s endeavor in “The Boyfriend.”. He was good! He even could sing! Great play, lots of energy and talent for a high school play.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Nanette, I hoped you’d stop by today! Thanks.
      You were a beautiful and talented ‘Polly’ — was that the name? — and I’m sorry I couldn’t do the dance. I really enjoyed that production and being teamed with you was a genuine pleasure.
      Folks — I’ve previously told Nanette this — but you may be surprised to learn that I still know nearly all the lyrics to the two duets Nanette and I sang in that play.
      “A Room in Bloomsbury” and “I Could Be Happy With You”. Yeah, after over 43 years. Wild.

      Like

  11. Oh, Jeff. The things I’m learning about you! ;c)

    I ran track in high school (my event was the mile, although I did some of the long relays and dabbled in cross country), but most of my extracurricular time was spent with horses. It wasn’t school related, but I had a horse at home so I spent my afternoons on horseback and my evenings on the phone with a friend, chatting as we did our math homework. (He and I were in the same advanced math courses all the way through high school, so we had the same homework and would compare answers at the end of each problem … year after year after year, lol.)

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  12. Nanette says:

    Sarah – besides loving drama I too had horses and still do!

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    • jeff7salter says:

      And, Sarah, as I mentioned to Janette, above, Nanette won a wall-full of trophies for barrel racing, among other horse competitions.

      Like

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