Throughout the years, there have been many changes to the community and atmosphere here at CHS. Alongside each set of students graduating in June, each freshman class every year brings their own thoughts and viewpoints to contribute to the Centennial community at large. We here at The Talon have each been assigned with writing upon a select number of teachers that have graduated right here from Centennial High School as an attempt to gather what makes this school so special, and why faculty keep returning here. I managed to interview Mr. Mei, a graduate from Centennial who is most known in the school for leading the Student Council.
“I graduated in 2008. The biggest difference [was] scheduling. We had an A and B day. We had a metal shop, a wood shop, and a marching band. There used to be this incentive lunch program, where if you got good grades you would get an extra hour of lunch, and you could have a total hour of lunch. Obviously teachers have changed, that’s natural. It now seems like we still have a pretty diverse demographic. The CHS’s fight song lyrics haven’t changed,” he laughed. “You see different things as a teacher than you do as a student”
“I’ve taught one year of physics, I’ve taught math, computer science, and student activities. I also coach the boy’s tennis team.”
Although he doesn’t know how long his employment in this environment will go on for, Mei did say that he still admires teaching and working in an education setting. As far as the extracurricular activities and clubs go, he wants to use that as an asset in making the school better.
“[One] of my big goals is to make the Student Council seem more transparent. I want the school to know more and understand better what Student Council is like. I feel like often there’s a misunderstanding of what Student Council does, because there’s a lot of background things we have to do that the school doesn’t know.”
Mei cites Student Activities and tennis coaching as two of his favorite occupations he’s kept throughout the years. “When you teach, you teach everyday. It’s kinda fun to do something outside of academics. When you teach in a class, you only know those students. When I do Student Activities, I get to know more students in the school, rather than the ones in the class.”
Mei also pointed out the lack of resources the school has, and how certain assets in CHS have become more expensive overtime. “There’s more and more things the teacher has to do” – I would say it’s more like the lack of resources. Relative to the cultural shift, the culture is very much different nowadays compared to even back when I first graduated here back in 2008. Now it’s a lot of the talk with equity and equality- making sure everything is equitable. A lot of talk about racism, whereas back in those previous years it was not as big [of a] topic. We might have talked about it in history classes, but it wasn’t talked about so every student in the school knew about it.
“Our pay too- it may have increased a little bit, there’s things we have to do than what the pay’s increase prompts, but of course teachers going into the job already know ‘this is what we’re getting into.’ It’s just that reality that makes it more difficult, and I think not just for teachers, but also for students. I feel like there’s a shift that students need to do more and more. I feel like students feel like they need to be doing a lot, with part-time jobs, being involved with extracurriculars or co-curricular activities like a sport, multiple clubs, all at the same time while getting good grades. So I feel like there’s a lot of pressure.” Mei pointed out that COVID has played a major role as well in the way the conditions and tone here at Centennial has adjusted.
“We have to keep a record of everyone who comes in here,” Mei explained, acknowledging the location the interview was taking place. “Policing, making sure students are keeping to the protocols- keeping their masks on. Having limitations in what we can do, so that we can find different solutions, which takes extra time and work. Also, there’s a huge shortage of substitutes, and that’s why there’s students seeing a lot of other teachers going out and helping out other teachers in different periods. We can’t find substitutes”
After a year and a half of being in isolation, this year has sprung an opportunity for our fellow students to create a difference in their school’s environment. Mei closed off by stating that while Centennial’s atmosphere has been kept the same, there are still slight differences that make all the difference in the way that we as a school present ourselves.