As first semester comes to a close, anticipation for summer is already starting to build. It should be no surprise when the senior hallway becomes deserted and the commons are a location more popular than scheduled classes. While teachers, parents, and deans will try their best to rally the class of 2017 in their swan song semester, there will be undoubtedly be very little to get the college-bound class focused on their school work and the precious moments passing them by. The future is racing at us, and sooner rather than later you and I will be headed out those big white doors and will head off to wherever our paths may lead.
As finals end and we sit in this limbo between semesters, I sit here thinking about the handful of months we have left at LFHS and the new adventures that will start once we are handed our diplomas on June 3rd. I know I can’t be the only one excited for the second semester senior privileges we’ve waited three years for and I’m sure the majority of us have been suffering from senioritis since long before winter break even started. There were many things running through my mind when I realized we were finally second-semester seniors and many questions that loomed about the unknown future, so I searched for answers, something to remind me that senior year shouldn’t be thrown to the side but instead embraced. Mr. Daniel Coad, of course, was the source of my answers.
Mr. Coad was, and still is, LFHS summed up into a bubbly warm-hearted math teacher. He is the teacher most missed by me on a daily basis, and one who imparted a great farewell speech to his classes on his last day at Lake Forest High School before he retired last June. I was lucky to meet with Mr. Coad a couple of days before we went off for winter break, wondering if the longtime math teacher could smother the worries of an undecided college bound senior. He did just that, and I felt I would be selfish if I did not to share his words of wisdom with my classmates or any future second-semester seniors.
As the student body rounds the corner to second semester, and as a teacher who has dealt with seniors for years, how would you suggest they stay motivated to finish the year strong?
“Staying motivated as a senior is a really tough thing. Just concentrate in class and just do it. Remember that everything you’re doing is for the last time, so things with friends and interactions with teachers won’t be there next year so savor it and try to just get through it with a smile. “
Having been through the college process yourself, and with your kids, how would you help a student in deciding on the right college?
“A lot of students think they need to go to a certain college based on what their friends are telling them and what their parents are saying and often times they’re going to be great [anywhere]. They get all stressed out for no reason but once they get to the college they decide on it’s a good fit for them. You just have to work hard and concentrate on school wherever you go. So don’t worry about it as much as people make it out to be.”
From your own personal experience, what would you tell someone stepping out of the planned routine of high school and entering their first chance at absolute independence?
“High school is kind of a bubble. Wherever you go to school. It’s great to leave the bubble, but it is scary and you just have to remember that people are what’s important–not necessarily getting the best career job right away or making the most money. It’s people in the end that are important and your interactions with [everyone] you come across; trying to lighten their day or make a difference in someone’s life is far more important than acquiring material things.”
You taught for a long while, created really personal connections with all of your students, what is the one thing you try to teach everyone beyond math?
“My idea about teaching is that your subject matter is important, but the whole person is more important. My dad once said, well, many times, “it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how many material things you have when they nail your coffin shut.” So, what matters is people and family members. So when you have a family, spending time with them and putting them over your career is important. I was thinking about cell phones and how if you’re visiting [someone] don’t even pull them out, interact and get to know everyone. “
Now lastly, I’m sure everyone is curious about how you’re enjoying your first year of retirement. What have you been up to?
“The thing I miss most is interacting with young people and day-to-day jumping into the classroom to interact with them; but I also miss trying to help them become better individuals. I mean, the math part was fun, too. I’m enjoying retirement and being with my grandchildren. I have lots of things to do so I’m fine and happy. But I will try to make it to graduation.”
Thank you, Mr. Coad, for offering fresh words about our final year of high school, and I thank the staff of LFHS for doing their best to make this picturesque high school feel like a second home for so many of us. Enjoy your last turnabout or sports games, enjoy the moments cooped up in the commons or discussing something with your favorite teacher because those are the moments that count. I thank all of you for filling this building with different characters and happy faces. I sign off with a final farewell and a good luck to everyone with whatever these last few months at Lake Forest High School bring to you.