Too many memories to count

Tacos and Tennis Shoes

Of my thousands of high school memories, I would easily bet at least 75 percent of them revolved around Diana Tate. 

After 40 years of molding young minds, Tate is retiring from Perkins County High School, leaving, in my opinion, some very large shoes to fill.

It is that very opinion that made writing a story about her retirement so complicated for me. 

I am completely biased when it comes to Tate. I’ll admit it. She walks on water in my memories and writing an objective story, free from my many personal memories and adorations, proved far more difficult than I thought it might be. 

Like so many before me, Tate taught me English, Spanish and speech, but was so much more than that.

Tate made me want to go to school every day. She is why I fell in love with public speaking, why I went to CSU and why I chose to study communication. 

A few months back a sophomore was being interviewed in our office. When I heard him mention Tate, my ears perked and I eavesdropped a minute. 

Fifteen years later, she is making students feel exactly the same way I did! The pure joy in his voice when he spoke about her was enough to bring tears to my eyes. 

I sat in her classroom last week, looking at the very football poster that adorned her desk 15 years ago (you guys know the one) and just kept thinking about what she brought to my high school career...along with countless others. 

As I interviewed her, I got the opportunity to share some of my favorite memories with her—our numerous play dates in the drama closet, working on the Plainsmen Press, getting “scolded” for breaking her wooden dowel during a light saber fight in the hallway with Chris Johner, changing nine times in her back room to find a Tate-approved speech outfit and so many more.

She faithfully attended late night and weekend speech practices to work around my many other commitments, celebrated what made me, “me” and never failed to put me in my place. Her often brutal, but revered honesty and her gentle guidance were something to be reckoned with.

The connection Tate had with her students cannot be taught. She was a true gift to those of us who needed her.

She offered her time, her heart, even her home to so many and she will forever be a part of Perkins County High School. 

Telling her story was not easy. Especially when she was such a huge part of mine. But I was honored to get the opportunity and blessed to be taught by her. 

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