March 11, 2014
Remembering My Favorite Science Teacher, Mr. Swift
Posted by Christine Hurt

Sometimes you have more to say than fits into a Facebook post.  That's why I'm glad I have a blog.

A million years ago, I was in the 9th grade at J.T. Hutchinson Jr. High in Lubbock Texas.  "Hutch," as we called it, was home to the junior high magnet program.  One of the highlights of the program was taking Biology from Charles H. Swift, who has just recently passed away at 73.  Imagine a hospice room with daily visits from 35 years of students.  I can't even imagine how full the memorial service will be.  It would take me too long to tell you all about Mr. Swift, who taught us good-for-nothings in a vast lab full of animals; some dead, some alive.  You never knew when you walked in if you would have a pop quiz, be put in a dark closet with scorpions and a black light, or be treated to one of Mr. Swift's soliloquys on life, but any way was going to be good.  I will always remember Mr. Swift telling us repeatedly that the secret to life was taking Spanish, learning to type and giving blood.  I have followed this formula to great success.

But the memory that stands out for me is "Spring Trip."  Every year, Mr. Swift took 60 9th graders on a yellow school bus all over the state of Texas.  For those of you who are geographically challenged, Lubbock is in the Northwest part of Texas, a good six hours from anywhere.  I know I am missing some stops, and probably not in the right order, but we left Lubbock the Friday night that started Spring Break and returned the next Sunday evening.  We went to Juarez, Mexico, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Galveston, Davy Crockett National Park, and who knows where else.  We took sleeping bags and a tarp and slept outside, at least once in the rain.  We got food at grocery stores and a few cafeterias.  At least one night we cooked outside. There may have been one shower the whole week.  I don't remember anyone complaining.

These days, 9th graders have been to Europe, New York, Asia, who knows.  But we hadn't.  No one in that group had been anywhere as far as I knew.  But we saw everything that needed to be seen in Texas that week.  I can't even imagine taking 60 15 year-olds (boys and girls!) anywhere, and I definitely can't imagine getting them to sign on to such a "no frills" trip in this modern era.  But we all had an amazing time, and when we see each other, that's all we talk about.  I remember once in high school getting ready to go on a Biology II field trip, and one of our classmates whose parents wouldn't let him go on the Spring Trip pleaded with us not to start any sentence with "Remember on the Spring Trip that time. . . . ?"

Sometimes someone will ask me how I got up the nerve to talk 15 law students to Malawi over Spring Break.  Well, I had a good teacher.  R.I.P., Mr. Swift. 

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