By Gaige Winchester
The room is dark, aside from the dull gray light seeping in through the windows on a cool fall day. Everyone in the class is silent aside from one voice. Thirty students, all concentrated on one story. Mr. Trehearne’s Shoestring Story.
As the chemistry expert tells it, while teaching at Pendleton Heights High School in the early 1990s, he once had a student, Christopher Coyle. While working on a homecoming project, Coyle came up and snipped Mr. Trehearne’s shoestrings as a prank. Mr. Trehearne then told Coyle he owed him a shoestring, and with a smile they finished their project.
Fast forward to Coyle’s graduation day. When administrators were reading off Coyle’s accomplishments, Trehearne got it written on the script for them to say that Coyle owed him a shoestring.
The next day, he gave Trehearne his shoestring and in an attempt to get the last laugh, he bought him the ugliest shoestring he can find — a rainbow-colored native weave.
Trehearne decided to keep it. The next year while attending Ball State University, Coyle was out late one night walking across campus. Chosen at random, he got robbed by two angry gang members who forced him into a car with a third driver. Once they found that he didn’t have much money on him, they got angry. The original two took him into an alley and fatally shot him.
At the visitation prior to the funeral, Trehearne decided to keep one shoestring of the set Coyle bought him and put the other in the casket.
He says this changed his life, because he learned one of the most valuable lessons of his life.
“Cherish relationships while you have them, and it goes farther than students, with siblings, with parents, with significant others. Cherish the little experiences because you never know how long you may have them,” Trehearne said.
Every adult has had some sort of crossroads or life-changing experience. Most of them teach lessons, and most of them make people better as a result.
Such as communications teacher Mr. Cleland and the death of one of his tennis player’s fathers in 2010. Early one Saturday morning the father of one of the families that he coaches passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack.
“That’s been a real life-changer for me because I got more involved in coaching the person instead of just the athlete,” Cleland said.
He said the turning point was the fact that he was the first person the family called to come to the hospital. Cleland said that was the point when he realized he made a much bigger impact than he realized.
“One thing Cleland does differently from other coaches is he teaches us tennis through life lessons,” sophomore Isaac Anderson said. “He also is more of a friend than a coach and helps us through as much off the court as on.”
Things that change a life don’t always have to be death oriented. For English teacher Mr. Lodl, it was his first encounter with teaching.
He said at first he was scared when entering Mrs. Stout’s 7th grade English classroom at Sarah Scott Middle School in Terre Haute, Ind., in the fall of 2011. Unbeknownst to him he would have a career in teaching high school English. He said he was lost and really didn’t have a path or know what he wanted to do with his life.
“She had the best ideas, and she made learning fun,” he said. “If it weren’t for her I probably wouldn’t be teaching.”
Lodl said this changed his life because it helped him find himself. He learned that you have to go out of your comfort zone and although things can be scary, it may turn out for the best.`
For history teacher Mr. Himes, his crossroads moment was becoming a parent.
“It makes you realize the level of responsibility you have,” Himes said. “And how important the influence is that your kids have when you’re around.”
He says becoming a parent definitely bettered him as a person.
“Kids do as they see and not what you say,” Himes said. “People are always going to remember the way you made them feel and not always what you said.”
Crossroads moments happen to everyone, and can come anywhere, at any time. If you don’t take the opportunities, they may pass you by.
One thing is for sure, it may not seem good at the time, but there’s always a lesson to be learned.