THE YELLOW HALL
During my seventh and eighth grade, I had a teacher named Lester Openlander who made an impact on my life. He was from Bloomington, Indiana. He was a wonderful teacher, and he taught us a lot of things. He especially directed our attention to correct pronunciation of the English words. One time a student finished a work assignment and raised his hand excitedly, 'Mr. Openlander, I'm finish, I'm finish.' To this, Mr. Openlander replied, 'No, you're not Finnish. You're Guamanian', and he would then teach us how to pronounce the word correctly.
I enjoyed taking Mr. Openlander's tests and quizzes. He would pass out test papers starting with the top grades down to the lowest. One girl and I would always get our test papers first or second. I have often wondered about the wisdom of passing out test papers in this manner. What were the feelings of those who received their test papers last? I think Mr. Openlander should have passed out the test papers alphabetically instead. Oh, well...
Learning was fun with Mr. Openlander. He taught us subjects that would prepare us for high school. He taught us algebra and geometry. His wife taught in one of the high schools, and one day Mr. Openlander said that in comparison with some of the composition papers produced by her students, our composition papers were better. It made us feel good to hear that we, eighth graders, were better than ninth graders.
The time came to prepare for the graduation commencement exercise. The girl who was selected valedictorian was Julia, and I was selected salutatorian. We were told to prepare our speeches ourselves, and, if needed, our teacher would help us. Julia and I worked hard on our speeches, but I found out later that she had received outside help preparing her speech, and I confronted her about it--that it was unfair, etc. Well, one thing led to another and before we knew it, we were fighting hard, pulling hair, etc. However, I had an advantage over Julia. I had a boyfriend in the class who protected and shielded me from further physical abuse from this girl.
Mr. Openlander took us to the Principal's office for punishment. At the office, we were all sitting there waiting for the Principal to appear. No one was talking; all were reflecting upon the crisis that had happened. The clock on the wall was ticking, and I turned to look at the time. That was when I saw Mr. Openlander sitting there with tears streaming down his face. His star pupils had fallen. I don't remember what the Principal counseled us about, but I remember feeling badly that I had caused my favorite teacher to cry.
The last day of school, we had a picnic at the beach. We had a most wonderful time. There were food galore; there were laughter. Pictures were taken for souvenirs. But all too soon, it was over and time to part one from the other. My teacher's two-year teaching contract with the Government of Guam ended, and he and his wife would be returning to the United States. We would never see him again! Oh, my heart was breaking, and a feeling of overwhelming sadness consumed me.
I was not looking forward to going to high school. George Washington High School was located near the capital city of Agana. The school was centrally located. High School would be a lot different from the elementary school setting that we were accustomed to. For one thing, the high school would be attended by students from all over the island. It would be way much bigger than our class at the elementary school. Oh, I didn't want my world disrupted. I didn't want things to change. I didn't want Mr. Openlander to leave. My heart was breaking in two. I remember wishing that time would turn back and that I would still be in the eighth grade with my classmates and my favorite teacher, Mr. Openlander.
There is only one place I know where there will be no goodbyes, no farewells, no partings, no sadness. All will be peace, joy, and happiness forevermore. That place, my friends, is called Heaven. We are not left alone this side of heaven, however. Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness brings sunshine, music, springtime, and gladness to the soul and helps us to cope:
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.