Re-reading this essay three years later leaves me wondering whether I watched a few too many of those Brady Bunch re-runs or whether I actually had some kind of sophisticated sense of sarcasm underlying my early innocent edge. I'd like to think the latter, but unfortunately, I can't deny my old 4:00-4:30 after-school routine. You can't either, don't lie! Hey, at least we all learned a lesson at the end of each episode.

My hands were brittle and numb from the biting cold. I’d been raking leaves for just under three hours in the dwindling group of Latin Club members who braved the weather for charity donations. As a freshman, I felt somewhat alone in my new club, especially since my friends had backed out on my invitation to join me that Saturday. Nevertheless, I vowed to stick with it, and someday spark more interest in the activities… even in the cold. However, with my yet-unestablished high school reputation and lone voice out of 150 members, I continued to contribute merely my attendance at the meetings and activities.

Sophomore year, I found myself embracing Latin Club as a way to have fun with my friends and contribute community service. But despite my enthusiasm, the club did carry a somewhat nerdy and uninteresting image probably stemming from the name.

“Latin Club? Come on. Whatta you guys do in there… speak Latin… or play dead!?” a classmate remarked.

I chuckled, then informed him that the Romans were known for drunken revelry, large feasts, and ceremonial orgies. After translating that into “music, food, and dancing,” I reminded him that there was a Latin Club party coming up next weekend. Needless to say, I had little trouble improving the club’s popularity.

Junior year arrived, and I decided it was time to make my move on the Latin Club. The name consul, the equivalent of president, jumped out from the nomination form like a lone image in a 3-D comic book. However, the presidency required a partnership—an ancient Roman safeguard carried on symbolically in our club. No problem! My friend Sankeerth and I couldn’t have shared more interest. Thus, the campaign for “Court & Sankeerth” was born, but by no means an heir to the throne. Our opponents were none other than two of the biggest academic powerhouses in the senior class: Annie, who aced the SAT; and Christy, president of two other major clubs. Together they proved our valiant efforts basically futile in their shadow. “Next year,” spoke the voice of optimism.

Senior year brought to our campaign the confidence of a veteran TV sitcom versus a “pilot.” Could anyone else possibly have wanted to be Latin Club president as much as we did? We could take no chances.

The only way to win was to buy big markers. But the first day of visual campaigning was the next day, and we still lacked markers with this essential trait. Sankeerth cringed at the thought of making some proportionally ridiculous effort for such an “insignificant” tool of victory at such an ungodly hour of night. But I stood firm and he had no choice; we must have the markers. Only, the last hours of specialty art stores had drawn to a close hours ago. Ahaa! Wal-Mart—the 24-hour superstore savior about to serve my needs.

“Excuse me sir. Could you direct me to some unusually LARGE poster board markers?”

The employee looked confused. He hesitated. I tensed.

“Follow me back to the craft section,” he said. The rest is history.

Sankeerth and I met early in the morning before school the next day striding confidently into school clutching our pride and joy: a 20-foot long, almost 2-foot tall banner with our names printed neatly in a Magnum .44 marker. Of course we’d be the only ones to put up a campaign device so early—moreover such an overwhelming one. But just when the world seems so simple, the opponents show up. To my dismay, our archrivals, Johnny, senior class president, and Yvonne, cheerleading captain, were already preparing to HANG their equally impressive banner across the middle of the room!

What ensued was labeled “the most widespread campaign effort for Latin Club offices ever” by our teacher, Mrs. Hankins. To me, it could have been more appropriately labeled “the biggest backfiring imaginable of the election-hype we had intended to create for ourselves.” We now had three pairs of opponents running for president, and the Latin room (campaign headquarters) was decorated a mess. Of course, maybe that was only because the more signs others put up, the less visible ours became.

We worked relentlessly for almost three weeks promoting our campaign, using posters, a proposed trip to Six Flags, and a “Top 14 Reasons” list as our platform. Finally, election day arrived. As the meeting began, I could almost hear our fate being counted aloud, ballot by ballot. As if purposely arranged, we were the last candidates summoned to the podium to offer any last words as to why we would be best suited to govern the Latin Club. A hush fell over the room, and everyone eyed me intently. But there were no words to a perfect ending. Our campaign had spoken for itself, and I dared not disturb our momentum with a last-minute desperation speech. I spoke simply and sincerely, then stepped down. This year, our efforts were rewarded.

Our Latin teacher had always seen us as the comical twins with good grades. After our first meeting a month later though, we seemed to add a dimension to her perspective. In the midst of her reevaluation, she turned to us from the front of the room as we were at the door.

With glowing sincerity and a warm sigh of relief she said, “You guys really had that meeting well-organized and under control. I’m proud of you two.”

For a second, the empty space between Mrs. Hankins and us seemed to shrink. I truly felt glad to earn her respect, and I knew it was the beginning of a yearlong faculty-to-student relationship that I would reflect on with inspiration someday. I felt the time and effort of three years, and the last three weeks in particular, culminated in one moment of accomplishment…and inexpressible satisfaction.

“Oh, and don’t forget to design and order the club T-shirts, schedule our charity drive, and get the meeting’s minutes from the secretaries,” she added.

“Don’t worry,” I thought, “I haven’t forgotten we have jobs to do.” The year had just begun, and if enthusiasm were a gas station, we had just filled up.