While en route to my parents house I've driven past Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, VA more times than I can recall. However, I have never revisited my old high school stomping grounds. It's not that my experience at the school was at all negative. Although the facility was nicknamed "Gang Run" high school after a senseless shooting occurred on school grounds - I simply never had a valid excuse to go back.
That all changed when I was sent on assignment by Education Week to cover a story about a new program funded by the US Navy.
Generally speaking, The Navy has decided to fund a private-sector initiative to get more kids from low-achieving, high-minority schools to take and pass AP tests in math and science by paying them and their teachers. The White House recruited the Office of Naval Research’s STEM office to pay for the Texas-based National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) to be implemented in three schools that serve a lot of military families. It’s a pilot that the Navy hopes to expand significantly if it works.
You can read the story in detail if you click here.
That said, being at GRHS was slightly surreal after all these years. Lets face it, I was definitely not a model student. Having failed 11th grade and anticipating dropping out of school altogether the idea of going to college was never even a consideration. Therefore, I associated school as the place where I experienced my teenage angst; hiding any insecurities and shortcomings I might of had beneath an unruly attitude.
Fast forward some 20 odd years and I finally arrived at the doors of GRHS again where I was cordially escorted around the building by Assistant Principal Phipps. She was full of what some might call Southern Hospitality, I instantly liked her. During my past tenure at GRHS, for the most part, I did manage to avoid visits to the office. But even today, as an adult, I did feel a little anxious being in the principal's office. It was similar to that feeling you might get when a police car is trailing directly behind you and you know they're just waiting to have a reason to pull you over. Hell, you don't even want to blink wrong!
Anyway, it was fascinating to walk through those same halls, looking for my old locker - it was replaced two years ago, experiencing flashbacks of my own random teen years, tasting the same cafeteria smell of pizza and fries, and digesting the pictures of star athletes from the past and former principals that adorned the walls looked oddly antiquated.
I had to ask myself, "Was I really that old? Wow!"