I have been extremely hesitant to share any of my experiences from my time at Indian Springs. To be frank, I hated my highschool experience and never came close to finding that special "love" for Springs that so many others had or have. I was probably not a good "culture" fit for the school and never had much of a desire to participate in anything outside of the classroom. I was always relieved when the clock hit 3:22 and was even more relieved when I walked off that stage with my diploma and knew I never had to go back if I didn't want to. I haven't. My time at ISS seemed to start off on the wrong foot in the 8th grade and never seemed to get back on track. After graduating, I attended what Gunnar Olson so lovingly referred to as "one of those big party schools" that are "good safety options if you don't get into your first or second choice." (It was my first choice and I loved everything about it Gunnar.) I lost touch with pretty much my entire class post-grad. I tried to just push memories from my time at Springs out of my head and was mostly successful. It wasn't until my then girlfriend and now fiancee began asking me about some of my highschool experiences that I realized there might be something more to what in hindsight was essentially complete and intentional repression of those 5 years.
What were otherwise completely benign questions about teachers, classes and friends seemed to set me off in a way few other things do. I didn't want to talk about it. At all. But I also hadn't really taken the time to figure out why. The more I did the more I realized that a handful of experiences with faculty members and students had an outsized impact on the quality of my experience at ISS and my memories of my time there. When I consciously began to sort through my memories of Springs I tended to focus on a select few more than anything else. I knew exactly why but certainly didn't want to admit it to myself. I also didn't want to admit that those experiences had deeply affected me. I wanted and still want to be able to say that those things happened and I was able to push them out of my head and function normally but I now know that is simply unrealistic. I wont lie, I've checked this site frequently since its launch hoping that reading others' stories would give me the courage to write my own. It has been moving to read these stories and I hope that all the victims know they are not alone. I started 8th grade unmotivated and not really wanting to be there. I had signed up for Latin because every alum my parents met had said "he just has to take Latin with Lusco! Lusco is the best!" I remember my first day of Latin class walking in and seeing a bunch of students sitting around his desk. I thought it was odd but passed it off. When a male student sat on his lap while two other male students literally begged to do the same I was stunned. I did poorly in Latin class. I couldn't stand the material and I couldn't stand the instructor or his favoritism. I sat in the very back and he would often ask me to come "join the party" around his desk. I never did. But my poor grades caught up to me and I received what was essentially forced tutoring with John Lusco everyday during lunch. In his office. Alone. It made me feel uncomfortable from the start and I plead with administrators to give me another chance to pull my grades up. They refused and told me if I did not attend these mandatory help sessions then more punitive action would be taken. I went everyday for a few weeks. We almost never went over Latin. He would offer me free soda and candy and ask probing questions about my life and family. My likes/dislikes. He would have me sit directly in front of him no more than 2 feet away. It was horribly uncomfortable. When I began to just skip the mandatory sessions was when he started going over latin during our midday meetings. He would put his hand on my right shoulder for the duration of the meeting and give a little squeeze when I did something right. When I got something wrong he would lightly slap my back or my thigh occasionally. When we were done he would always rub the center of my back in the way you do with a loved one. After a few weeks of this I just quit going. He never forced the issue and towards the end of the school year my Dad asked about Latin class. I told him about the boys sitting around the desk and although I never mentioned what happened in Lusco's office I did tell him about the the students sitting in his lap. I'll never forget the look on my father's face. I took a different foreign language the next year and I can count how many times I spoke to John Lusco after that on one hand.
My freshman year I took Michelle William's 9th grade english class. I was good at english and history so I took to her quickly. I enjoyed the seminar style course she taught and did well in her class. I would sometimes study in her empty classroom at lunch and we would occasionally make small talk. She seemed nice, hyper and sometimes overbearing. The day before Spring Break I was walking from the Town Hall to the Library and she happened to be going the same way. We made brief small talk and then she made a slightly off kilter comment, "make sure you get a lot of rest this Spring Break I need you well rested." I thought it was oddly worded but certainly not sinister. Then, as we were walking together, she put her hand around my left bicep, squeezed gently and said, "ya know I really like your face. Don't telly anyone I said that okay?" She let go after giving my 14-year old arm another squeeze and walked off without looking back. It was so uncomfortable I very literally stopped and turned around. I've never forgotten that moment, where I was or what was said. I didn't feel like it qualified as "harassment" so I never told anyone. It wasn't until I began to hear and now read stories of Chuck Williams' perversions and Michelle's feigned ignorance that I began to look at that interaction in a different light. Over the next few years she would often touch me as we passed by each other or make a point to talk to me more as a friend or equal than as a pupil. It was always odd and even other students would comment when they saw her interact with me. I tried to pass it off but in my head I very literally counted down the days until graduation. There were certainly other experiences that occurred during my time at ISS but I simply do not feel ready to share them. Perhaps one day. What I do know is that Indian Springs hid in plain sight for decades and it is now time for a reckoning. The more I hear and the more I read the more I am convinced that there are very few innocent parties in this matter. I hope the school is made to confront their sins sooner than later.
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