Jackie Phillips was at once the most-deserving and least-deserving person to be honored that day.
Jackie Phillips was singled out in front of fifty other people for a reason. She was a role model for everyone else in the room. Like an enlisted soldier promoted from sergeant to lieutenant in front of his unit, Jackie became the model student everyone else present should have aspired to be.
And yet the irony of it all reflected in Jackie's expression. Jackie's expression seemed to ask, "What, are you kidding me? Can I just leave or something... ?"
Jackie would revisit this moment with me and all our friends many times over the next few years.
"Remember that day in chorus?" she would begin. "Remember how Mr. Hammond stopped everything and said people should pay attention as closely as I did even though I could not sing well? Remember how he suggested that the good behavior I displayed got people like me who could not sing into chorus?"
To be fair Jackie was the one who said she could not sing, and she wore her reservations about concert choir on her sleeve. But this was also the Jackie Phillips who did not believe she deserved to be crowned the junior prom queen the year before. Tiaras were pretty stupid, she insisted.
This was the same Jackie Phillips who referred to herself as a "closet fat kid" because she ate all the time. While her appetite was impressive for a girl her size anyone could nevertheless lift her as easily as they could lift an American Girl doll.
So perhaps only Jackie believed she was not deserving of the public recognition she received in chorus class that day. Perhaps only Jackie Phillips was convinced she could not sing. Perhaps she did not deserve to be called The Only Earnest Student In Concert Choir. Perhaps she should just have been called The Biggest Square In Concert Choir.
It makes sense to me. Any senior who did their homework in study hall was a square in my book, and that's exactly what Jackie Phillips did.
I mean, who does their homework in study hall?