Getting In Step with an RFH Icon

George Giffin moving feet to the beat with RFH Drill team girls
Photo/RFH Yearbook

“OK, pick your dance partners,” RFH’s iconic George Giffin said at a 70s ballroom dance class.

The cool guys scurried to get the most popular girls as the tune countdown ticked away. I was the last girl left. Left footed, Lainey. Yep. Giff chuckled a little, looked at the two boys left as they backed into the wall like frightened wallflower turtles.

“Come on!” he said. “Who’s dancing with Elaine?” The wide-eyed, woeful ditchers dug their dancing heels in ever more. “Nooooo! Not me, not me!” the teen meanies grumbled, eeking little shrieks, shaking their heads and scrambling for social distancing well ahead of its time. Proud little mice, they were. It was reminiscent of volleyball team picks in gym, only worse.

Oh, I was always last to be picked for sports. And sometimes not picked at all. Talk about wallflower. With choosing teams in gym class, it always ended up that I was in solitary, playing with the wall and stray volleyball or “excused” for cramps. I had become quite adept at forging that mommy savior note. I had reconciled myself to the sports failure. The team rejection was another matter. Less than cool.

That was OK. I didn’t care about sports. But, the notion of never having the first or last dance, not to mention any in between, was just too much for this non-triple threat on the stage. I mean, I could belt a tune and improv a scene, but I couldn’t even get my two left feet to exit stage left in a bad polka. So, George Giffin’s ballroom dance class was what I thought might be my ticket to triple threatdom. Nope. And clearly no one was saving the last dance for me.

So, Giff shamed the popular piss ants and took me for a twirl. He did it with many others. And he broke those social clique barriers with a step, a whirl and a cha, cha, cha.

Five, six, five, six, seven, eight! There’s no denying that RFH’s iconic George Giffin kept the beat going and feet moving in and out of the classroom at the high school for decades and will continue to well beyond his death a few years ago.

That’s why a George Giffin Memorial Fund was created via a cooperative effort between RFH and former students.

No joke, the fundraising officially began today, April Fool’s Day. And Giff was a fun teacher who loved a good joke more than anyone. His legacy is more than his skill as a teacher or coach, though. While he did both very well — keeping a golf team going strong, helping with hoops and pioneering a choreographed marching team of girls twirling rifles with the first-of-its kind RFH Drill Team — his passion for contagious fun and helping people to find their own passions are the things that made RFHers who knew him want to keep his legacy going strong.

So, with the fundraising kicking off today and a set goal of $20,000, the joke, if you will, is that there is already $13,430 in the till.

Here’s the tribute that the RFH Class of ’73 put together. Click here or on the below image and it will take you to the fundraising page. They ask that you leave your name, class and a comment. No fooling. Time to dance to George Giffin’s legacy tune …

George Giffin at 83
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management