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In 1969, I was shuffling down the halls of my high school, staring at the floor, hair uncombed, shirt-tail out -- a typical high-school junior -- when my Latin and Greek teacher (who herself seemed ancient at the time) stopped me.

"Mr. Lowe," she barked. "Stand up straight! Brush that hair! Tuck in that shirt! You are a Classicist! Act like one!"

She meant to do no more, I'm sure, than discipline another slovenly student. In the process, though, she provided an answer to the questions that haunt every adolescent: "Who am I? And just what am I supposed to do on this planet?" Hers wasn't exactly the voice of God, but it was attention-getting nonetheless.

I carried her words with me through college and graduate school, and while life since then took a few unforeseen turns, I never forgot them. And today, many years later, in a second career I had long ago hoped would be my only one and long ago thought lost, I find myself again walking the halls of a high school, teaching Latin and Greek, and wondering if the day will come when I'll bark at a student, "You are a Classicist! Act like one!"