I love this comic. In high school they would have banquets in honor of the students with the highest GPAs, and I remember someone saying they should have something for all the kids who were struggling on the fringes, who were pretty much ignored. Yearbooks are supposed to provide us with memories of that time and it seemed like a rule that people who were quiet and kind, maybe more on the fringes, tended to be ignored. It’s good that the Mr. Vavonis are remembered too.
Clearly Mr. Smith’s death by AIDS was more tabloid-worthy than Mr. Vanoni’s. People love drama, but mostly when they aren’t directly involved in it. For instance, we love to hear about celebrities that burn brightly and then die explosively, but would never want that for our friends and family. 99.9% of the human population is not tabloid-worthy, thank god. We just need to remember to appreciate that sometimes, which is why it’s so great that this comic exists.
I think you were mesmerized because you wanted your biology teacher (or someone) to rub your belly until you fell asleep. I’m not saying you identify with cold-blooded reptiles. I was in love with my 7th grade teacher, Ms. Garcia – i think there was something between us, but I could never put my finger on it. Anyhow, good job.
A former classmate wrote me this, after reading my comic:
“When I was on the school paper, I did a full interview with him. It was to be featured in the paper for the 1990 New Year Special. I was the reporter and someone else was going to write it; so I turned in all my notes. It was determined that, “he wasn’t interesting enough,” so they decided not to do it. Of course, I was pissed. A few months later Mr. Vanoni died. I told the editor, you need to do that article. He threw away all of my notes. I was so upset.
“Mr. Vanoni was a great man with a lot of heart. He was probably misunderstood, since he was rather quiet. Nothing was more important to him than his students.”
Even though there are others who receive most of the attention at the time, it’s interesting how many years later, the little acts that Mr Vanoni did as a teacher are what really get remembered. Great comic! – it evokes strong emotions about what is important in life.
Wow! Ahahhahaa! Awesome! I had both of these teachers at TAM. I LOVE this comic!. Great job! I loved both teachers. I went to Mr. Vanoni’s funeral with Reyna Herrera. Two students who lived on the fringes at school. I was not in the senior yearbook. Nobody bothered to get even one picture of me. I went to the 20 HS reunion recently. But nobody found me for the 10 year. Reyna and I made Mr. Vanoni Indian Fry bread. “Sopapilla’s”. When I learned he had a heart attack I was sure we had killed him. Turns out he forgot to take his heart medication. I still blame the Indian fry bread.
Mr. Smith was my teacher for Social Studies and US History. I remember like it was yesterday the impact he had on me and my classmates after watching him, emaciated, tell our entire class he had AIDS and was leaving school. I recalled a time I had my period and Mr. Smith allowed me to go the nurses office saying to me, “Nobody said life was going to be fair Dinah.”
The most understated people tend to be remembered just as strongly as the flamboyant and outspoken, but with the same nuances and subtlety they show in their lives. Obviously that held true for you. Very touching tribute.