A letter from a high school classmate.

I received this letter from a high school classmate before we did the Philly show, almost 3.5 years ago. I am reading it now because we are going back.

George –

You were loud, outgoing, funny, the class clown. You used your humor and your energy to talk about important topics that people were afraid to talk about in Eastern High School: gender, race, class, stereotypes and
prejudices. You were “popular” because of the volume of your voice and your comedy.

I was quiet, shy (maybe, but mostly scared). I thought similar thoughts about race and gender and stereotypes and class, but was scared. I didn’t have the “popularity” power to open those discussions.

We were in Mrs. O’Keefe’s 9th Grade AP English class together. We were both in a talent show one year. I opened the show with an immature (maybe, but I was proud of it) poem I wrote in English class – I was scared to read it on stage…

Right before the curtain opened you said, “Do you have something important
you want to say to all those people out there?” I said, “Yes, I really do.” You said, “Well, tell them.”

Those words helped me get up the guts and the energy to say what I wanted to say, and I’m still proud of myself for doing it. And still very thankful to you for saying what you said to me. You probably don’t even remember saying it.

You are about to have your own “One Man Show” in Philadelphia. I’m sure this is just the beginning for you. You have always had important things to say to people. So I’m writing to tell you that I am proud to know you, and I just want to remind you, that as you continue to get larger and larger audiences, all you really need to do is “tell them.”

I have just been hired as a Baltimore City Public School Art Teacher. I live in Baltimore City. I will be teaching in schools where the majority of students are below the poverty line, and are African American. I hope that maybe I can have you come speak to my new students sometime over the next year or so, as I get more settled into the job. I would love to have a person who I know come talk to them about what the real world is like – and what it’s like to work as an artist who is just starting to “make it.”

Take care,
Julia Gumminger


1 Response to “A letter from a high school classmate.”

  1. August 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    You do make quite an impression. Perhaps, one day, I’ll write you a letter of my first one. Hope all is well.

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