Things are different in big cities.
In small towns, kids finish school and see everyone around town for the rest of their lives -- classmates, teachers, the principal.
In cities, kids graduate from high school and spread out across the country, across the world even, and forget most of what they left behind. The last time I visited the Woodson campus as an alumnus was the fall of 1967, when I came back to see my friends in the marching band at the Woodson-Annandale football game.
I went back in 1980 as a sports reporter, covering a basketball game between Woodson and one of the Alexandria schools for my first newspaper job with the Alexandria Gazette.
I never went back to see the teachers I had known and liked. There weren't many, and my favorite teacher of all -- Rachel Maguire from 12th grade English -- had moved over to Oakton.
But teachers stay.
Teachers stay and teacher generations of kids, affecting their lives the same way they did those of their parents and sometimes even their grandparents. It's why movies like "Goodbye Mister Chips" move us so much.
Joan Bedinger was one of those teachers, not for me but for many others. She taught drama and directed productions at Woodson for 30 years till her retirement in 1994. The theatre at Woodson is named after her.
She died last week after the last in a series of strokes. I was kind of surprised to realize that while we were there and she was teaching, she was younger than my 27-year-old daughter is now.
The Woodson drama Web site, which has information about her and her funeral services that will be held Saturday in Fairfax, says she "stepped into the loving arms of God."
That sounds pretty nice to me.