Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
-- PABLO NERUDA, TWENTY LOVE POEMS (TRANS. W. S. MERWIN)
After high school in America, everything's posthumous.
JOYCE CAROL OATES, BROKE HEART BLUES
Every year the Environmental History class goes on a week-long field trip. They climb sheer walls, analyze amazing rock formations, swim in crystalclear water holes, revel in the spectacle of dazzling flora and wildlife. It is the perfect experiential culmination to a semester of book- and computerbased learning in the classroom. But its much more than that. The Students, all seniors, regard the late-spring journey as a kind of rite of passage, and the whole school culture celebrates the tradition. It is one of the most sought-after electives, and the instructor is one of the most popular, respected members of the faculty. After returning, the class usually presents in assembly a slide show of breathtaking sights, and the student body listens to testimonials from the participants. One of the powerful (unofficial) subtexts of the experience is that during the field trip these seniors begin to grow conscious that their four years together are about to