In just a couple of weeks, I will begin my twentieth summer teaching the Writing & Imagination class in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth program.
One of the assignments I have been using since the very first class is to have the students write me a letter from twenty years in the future, telling me what has happened to them since they were in the class. After a couple of them tried to take a shortcut ("I was killed when the meteor hit the Earth three days after CTY ended." "My parents bought me a lottery ticket on our drive home and I won a billion dollars!"), I added a few rules about what couldn't happen.
Some of the students take a very practical approach, while others live out their wildest dreams. But the results are always entertaining, a variety of stories about high school and college careers, jobs, marriages and families. I write a letter as well, to them, usually beginning with, "Yes, I am still teaching at CTY..."
When we were doing the assignment last summer, it occurred to me that the very first class, back in 1993, wrote their letters from 2013. Wouldn't it be an interesting to try to get real letters from them? Easier said than done, because the filing cabinet containing my CTY files only went back as far as 1998, and I remembered the names of only a few of the students.
Preliminary web searches of those names I remembered proved fruitless and I was resigned to letting the idea go. Then one afternoon not long ago, I was cleaning out a closet and came across a folder filled with papers from the first five CTY summers, including a list of the 1993 class! All twelve names, plus addresses, albeit twenty year old addresses.
Armed with their then-addresses, I was able to refine my searches and track down some likely candidates. I've sent snail mail letters to the remaining addresses, though I expect most will come back undeliverable, the families long ago having moved. But you never know...
And just in case any of the members of that class decide to Google themselves and are led here, I want to hear from you: Joe Arias, Andrew Bostrom, Brandon Brown, Peter Chi, Matt Dana, Monica Elkinton, Billy Flook, Nathan Hribar, Ariel Lambe, Summer Loehr, Heejung Kim, and Derek Thiess, what's happened in the twenty years since you were in my class?