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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cheney senior class defined by love of freedom

Chris Pineo
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Chris Pineo Cheney High School

When I was asked to write a short piece on Cheney High School’s Class of 2005, I knew I faced a challenge. How could I possibly write something that touches on the experiences and attitude of my entire class?

After all, the time I had in high school is most certainly different from the time of my 200 or so other classmates. What can be said to define the Class of ‘05?

With this question in mind, I spent the past month or so not only reflecting, but also observing my fellow classmates. What was there to set my class apart from other classes from Cheney High?

We came together as a class for the first time in middle school, just in time to meet one another in the most awkward stages of our lives. Slowly, we transformed into adults, and it bound us in ways that growing up in separate middle schools could not have done.

This, along with our smaller class size, has made us close, or at the very least familiar with one another.

When we look at our friends, we see not only their faces but a collection of memories, good and bad, happy and sad. We see a living past, and often our conversations wander from what we are doing now to something that starts with “remember when we used to….”

But this does not set apart the Class of 2005 from other classes. I had found, it seemed, that what defines us does not lie in our long years together.

As a class, we are also a bit resentful. We are resentful of being WASL test dummies, resentful of our entry into the GSL, resentful of tightening school budgets and their effect on us, resentful of the post 9/11 and Columbine world of stricter disciplinary and “accountability” policies, and, yes, resentful of having to go to middle school in a concrete bomb shelter.

Despite this resentment though, we have still done our best to enjoy our time and haven’t allowed these problems to slow us down in our school work, our sporting or our fun. As the Beatles put it, we have been able to “get by with a little help from (our) friends.”

Many of these circumstances though, are not unique to our graduating class; they have left their effect, but again, they are not what defines us. My search continues.

Time was running out for the essay to be finished. Soon prom weekend rolled around, and I decided to see what I could find out about my class from this ever so important senior event.

In the midst of dancing the night away, I found what I was looking for. My first clues came in the night’s playlist, which was compiled by senior students.

There were rap songs followed by reggae, followed by big band jazz, followed by ska, followed by a song straight out of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Everyone freely danced together, unconscious of the way they looked or whether it was their favorite music. Then both the senior boys and the senior girls had group pictures.

What struck me was that we did not divide to have a picture of the senior jocks or whatever else.

Instead we went together in one group, unaware of “cliques.” It did not matter how the person next to us dressed or looked.

Finally the dance was just about over, and our class song came on: “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. We all came together in a circle, and each person joined arms with whoever was next to him or her.

There we were, jocks, preps, punks, drama kids, band nerds, loners, geeks, and everything in between, all together without a thought of these trivial distinctions, a bunch of “Freebirds.”

Then, as the song gained speed and energy, the crowd went into a frenzy and we took turns lifting one another above our heads. As I, too, was lifted high above the crowd, I realized what defined our class.

Students of all shapes and sizes from all groups were raised to the sky in a declaration of freedom, supported below by the hands of acceptance and understanding.

It was our class’s formal announcement that we didn’t care how the person next to us dressed or what group he or she belonged to.

This freedom is what truly defines us.

So go out and fly on, you Freebirds of ‘05.