I’ve worked at a high school for 28 years. In that time, I’ve witnessed “campaign season” every spring when students put posters all over the walls, chalk the sidewalks and prepare speeches to ask their classmates for their support. I’ve heard time and time again how a vote for them will guarantee everything from better food in the cafeteria, to the world’s best Prom, the elimination of all student parking tickets and of course a memorable senior year that any Hollywood script writer could envy.
It takes courage to run for an office among your peers. I commend these students for taking a step out of the crowd. Sometimes the winner of the election is the same slate of student body leaders that cohorts have selected for years. Sometimes the winner comes out of nowhere. Sometimes the fundraisers for Prom and the student activities are creative and well-executed. Sometimes the class officers build a strength of community that is truly uncommon.
The Moore High School class of 1986 lost an incredible Senior Class President. Our friend and chief encourager, Holly McCoy passed away to the shock of so many of us. Holly wasn’t incredible merely because of her high school career or her senior leader status. She was truly remarkable for many more reasons than that.
We started with over 1000 senior classmates although I don’t know how many of us crossed the commencement stage that night in May at the Lloyd Noble Arena. I know who would have known though – Holly. This is quite a feat for many reasons. First, our school structure didn’t lend itself to knowing everyone. We went through school with a configuration of 3 middle schools of 7th and 8th grade funneling students to 2 mid-highs for 9th and 10th grade culminating with 1 high school of 11th and 12th grade. Every two years we were merged with students from other areas of our community. Cliques would form and sometimes circles of friends would expand, but the geographic homebases of our elementary schools and little league teams were not easy to break through. Holly did it though.
Holly was far from the stereotypical “popular” kid or “mean girl” from a John Hughes movie. She got to know and became friends with those who walked around campus in their boots with the worn rings in their back pockets to those who used a can of hair spray for the big bangs and wore skirts, popped collars or ties and uniforms on game days. It didn’t matter if you cruised 12th street in a truck, corvette or a Camaro or if you didn’t cruise at all. It didn’t matter if you went to school listening to Whitney Houston, Madonna, George Strait or Iron Maiden in your Walkman. Even if you hung out between classes in the smoking section (yes, we had a section devoted to students who wanted to smoke. The teachers just used the lounge). Holly saw you. Holly wanted to get to know you.
It didn’t end when we left school or even our hometown. This was before social media made it easier to stay connected. When reunion plans had to be made, she got to work and tracked down as many Lions as she could and made a party out of it with other selfless volunteers who just wanted us to celebrate life together. Of course, when Facebook made it more convenient, she was the Queen of keeping tabs and keeping us together. This was Holly at her best.
Holly was the kind of person who gave selflessly no matter if she had classes with you or just became closer to you in adulthood. Holly was the greatest supporter and encourager of what continued to happen in our community and alma mater. She presented scholarships. She told the stories of great friends who had passed. She shared old pictures and great memories. She mourned when tragedy hit Moore and made a positive difference in the lives of others.
Holly multiplied friends’ joyful times and divided their grief. She showed up on front porches with incredible vegetables she lovingly tended to in her own garden. She showed up in hospital waiting rooms and at bedsides. She showed up at memorial services for classmates who lost loved ones. She showed up on timelines and feeds to share news or encouragement. Holly showed up for life.
We have so many great classmates who worked hard to make our reunions special and meaningful and that is when Holly connected with many on such a personal level. It’s been almost dizzying to read so many tributes to Holly. One from a close friend could not be more accurate. Paula Tusia wrote, “Holly, as you all know, was a once in a lifetime kind of person. One that made you see sun when you once saw clouds. The type that believed in each of us so deeply, we started believing in ourselves. One that never missed the little things and one that made every one of us felt seen, valued and loved for exactly who we are. Let’s all try to emulate that as a tribute to her.”
I hadn’t seen Holly since our last big get together and that is a loss for me for sure, but I know that the next time I’ll see her will be like the last. I’ll get a big hug and a “I’m so proud of you and so glad to see you” like everyone did.
I know high school isn’t always filled with great experiences and parties and I truly hope that high school is never the best years of anyone’s life. I also know that some people tend to discount the importance of some of that time in their lives or feel like it’s immature to “live in the past” or relive the “glory days.” The Apostle Paul wrote in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians that “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” I get it. Life moves on. We need to grow with it. However, he ends the chapter with this reminder. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
This was our president. This was our friend. Holly had faith in us and others. She hoped for the best and worked to make it happen. And she loved. Fully, unreservedly, unashamedly. Holly was the greatest because Holly was love. We can continue to let her lead us if we love like she loved.
The class of Moore High School Class of 1986 at our 30 year reunion