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Tulsa Central High School Senior Class Poem of 1951

Updated on August 6, 2011

Tulsa Central High School

This Senior Class Poem of 1951 appears on page 4 of the Tulsa Central High School newspaper for Friday, May 18, 1951, which a former classmate, Rosella Orf Morton of Tulsa generously sent me on March 10, 1996. I read this class poem before an auditorium full of our assembled graduating class of 853 seniors. Ms. Lev-Ellen Gilliam, my beloved 12th grade English teacher, had recommended me for this honor. Mrs. Edna Weeks, the Senior Class Counselor, later told me that during the reading the principal Mr. Black leaned over to her and asked, “Who wrote that?“ and Mrs. Weeks replied, “Max did,“ and she said he was amazed. It never occurred to me in those days to doubt the truth of such a story, because no one dared to question the formidable Mrs. Weeks who not only taught American history but proudly carried a season ticket for all games of the Tulsa Oilers baseball team. On the same page 4, however, it says, “Max Havlich [sic] received an $800 scholarship from East Texas Baptist College.” Even then, I knew poets would get little respect.

Senior Class Poem of 1951
Central High School, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Momentous progress never comes upon
The notice of a single instant. Days
Are all the same in life, but only one
Must hold our thrills and tears and hopes, the maze
That Life bestows, through which each student goes.
The yonder Spirit, known for seeking help above,
Must stands for these: an education first,
And then an honest life that’s daily filled with Love.

Our student duties filled our hearts and minds
With learning. Much that time has proven right
Was set before us by our teachers. Some
Was left untaught by them so we could find
That path to treasures deeper still. We owe
Our life to those whose aid, however slight,
Instructed us from step to step -- thus far.

Behind the books, the thing that age can’t mar --
Our mixing with experience -- is memory.
Remember when you had no friends at all?
Remember your first heartache over Love?
Remember talking first with God above?
Remember writing notes with incoherent scrawl?
Remember when you first observed an August moon?
Remember when you could not stop that crazy tune?
Remember now and never let these fall
From you, though Destiny should beckon you
And threaten to enslave you in his call.

Upon this day our lives are poised. From now
We sail down living streams in hand-made yachts
Toward ultimate perfection, but the probing prow
We carved, protected on the shore, is not
To reach that Sea of Right without the help of God.
Although the woody banks appear the same
To some, refreshing joys, with but a touch
Of newness, rest our aching flesh and claim
Our hearts. Thus education saves us from disaster.

Max Havlick, Jr.
With minor editing of punctuation and two words at Villa Park, Illinois, June 30, 2011. Copyright © June 2011 by Max J. Havlick, Writers Workshop, The Max Havlick School of Personal Creation and World Citizenship, a project of New World Community Enterprises, Inc., 16 West Vermont St., Villa Park, IL 60181-1938, all rights reserved (30 min. from O'Hare Airport). Permission granted here to make exact copies of this page that include the explanatory note and copyright notice.


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    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 6 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Thank you, wayseeker, for your kind and perceptive remarks. Esp. from one who has dedicated his life to teaching middle schoolers, where the rubber hits the road, so to speak.

      Inviting my thoughts, however, is more like offering the keys of your wine cellar to a confirmed alcoholic.

      I remember one day coming home from school in the 12th grade (about when this poem was written), while still getting warm standing over our floor furnace just past the entry way, I innocently told my mother seated across the room, "I want to be a poet," and she practically came unglued. Unthinkable it seemed to parents who had come together during the so-called Depression and sometimes struggled, or even stole, so we could eat. My dad once smuggled a side of beef out of his job at a packing house in Omaha (where I was their first-born on Dec. 4, 1933).

      Of course, when I got to ETBC, poetry was almost a dirty word there too, esp. among fellow students, who wanted other things from me I could more easily provide, so I stopped writing it, but I still took special note of it as I continued to read deeply in all kinds of literature.

      Key for middle schoolers: learn how to read (no matter where you have to start, comic books if nec.), how to read well, and how to enjoy reading and the thinking it involves. As long as a person CAN read, they always have some some potential for a better life. As long as a person DOES read, there is great hope and promise for them to have a better life.

      Thanks to the Summerian priest-scribes who apparently invented writing on clay tablets to keep inventory records of surplus produce from the irrigated farms in their purview, and soon to record their prayers.

    • wayseeker profile image

      wayseeker 6 years ago from Colorado

      I am impressed by the depth of character that this poem, along with your comments, reveals. As Denise mentioned, there are some genuine and profound insights about life bound up in this poem.

      The way you used enjambment of the lines to create a flowing rhyme scheme, sometimes full and sometimes slant, shows careful attention to word-crafting as well.

      I'll be keeping an eyes out for the Hub on the Max Havlick school. In the mean time, happy writing, and I'd love to hear your thoughts anytime!

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 6 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Thanks again, Denise, for looking at several of my poems of the past week (my first on HubPages) and asking about my school. More forthcoming soon as I plan to hub next week the 10 sections of the manifesto type intro to its overall philosophy and project. Meanwhile, next Wed. is our 25th anniversary, so be sure to read my poetic hub invitation to share in our vow renewal.

      I'll soon begin looking at your work.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Max, this is absolutely beautiful. I real gem of wisdom. Thanks so much for sharing the thoughts and talent that a young, (18 y.o.?) man has written from the heart so many years ago.

      I see that at the end of this hub there is a note that references 'The Max Havlick School of Personal Creation and World Citizenship'. I am cery intrigued and will check it out.

      Voted up and awesome. :)