Like Thanksgiving, Christmas is a time for pop culture. While Thanksgiving's pop culture is usually relegated to the living room couch, Christmas involves at least one trip to the the theater. Two years ago, the fam and I went half a dozen times over the two weeks I was home, seeing such family classics as Wolf of Wall street, American Hustle, and, of course, Frozen.
For my small hometown, going to the movies usually involves a thirty or forty minute drive to the closest big theater. Occasionally, however, we do something crazy - go to the local theater, smack dab in the middle of the town, part of the main street drag, just eight minutes from my house. The theater is a special place, a hodge podge of a couple of storefronts, with theaters tacked on like the Burrow.
One of the things I'm most proud of from my academic career (including that engineering degree) is a report my friend and I did during our senior English class on the history of said theater.
My friend Sarah and I were academic rivals but still good friends during middle and high school. By far, our favorite teacher was Mr. C. He taught us Latin for our four years of high school. He also taught senior English and Honors English, our school's version of AP English. It actually was a pretty legit program - we got credit through the local community college and my engineering school accepted it as a freshman English course, leaving way for me to take Jane Austen my freshman year while my classmates were writing essays on why they wanted to be an engineer in English 101.
Every year during Honors English, Mr. C would have students do a report on something in the town. It could be anything - a house, a business, a plot of land. Just do some research and put together a presentation on the thing you pick. The report was to be done in pairs, and Sarah and I agreed to work on the report together before senior year event started - we took this report very, very seriously. This was C-Diddy! There wasn't a teacher for which we had more respect or admiration. And we wanted to impress him. Our report had to be the best.
After convincing Sarah her church was a bad idea, we picked the theater. We interviewed the owner and got a behind the scenes tour of the place, taking lots of pictures. Most of our research, however, consisted of hanging out at the court house, pouring over old documents, tracing the theater to its inception in the 1950's. Before that, it was a shoe store. We went so far back as to the early 1800's, when the land was donated to the county from private owners. With the various names of the building throughout the years, Sarah and I then went to the local museum and found old ads from various magazines for the shoe store and the theater, sticking them into our presentation as well.
So we had all our info and we started putting together the presentation, utilizing all the PowerPoint skills our twelves years of public education had provided us.
When it came time to present our stuff, Sarah and I volunteered to go first. And it was awesome. That was a great presentation. It was well to put together, the information presented in an easy way to consume. The presentation slides themselves were excellent. Just the right amount of pictures to assist in our delivery. Everyone was impressed and shocked by how much info we had. Not that Sarah and I were surprised - we were usually the only ones in the court house.
The presentations took two days. Before the second day, I had independent study with Mr. C before our honors English class. Which means that I helped him set up instead of translating Latin, turning his classroom into a theater for the presentations. He gave me the second compliment he's ever given to me, telling me that our presentation was the best of the day before and one of the best of the reports he had seen. His other compliment had been at the beginning of the year, when I had submitted my first essay. In Honors English, he took the time to discuss each essay with the student in the middle of drafting time. He sat down with me and started our conversation with 'This is really good'. His other compliments were backhanded - my grades were too good so he couldn't count them as part of the curve (this usually made Sarah the curve setter, which pissed her off), I had good ideas but was too shy to present them.
Enough digression - I'm really proud of that presentation, of the time and effort Sarah and I put into it and the completeness of the report. We received a perfect score, which Mr. C did not give out, and our class voted our presentation the best of the bunch.
And that's how my hometown's theater, despite the terrible acoustics (when it's raining outside, it's usually louder than the movie itself) and uncomfortable chairs, always reminds me of my high school career, of my frenemy Sarah, and Mr. C, who really liked our presentation.