Sacrificial Lamb

There was a meeting last night to discuss the fact that Houston ISD is planning to close the high school I went to and merge it with another high school, build a new school and then adopt the mascot and name of the other high school. Folks in the community are upset and rightfully so. Who wants to see their alma mater shut down??  This meeting was supposed to be to gather community “input” but many folks acknowledge that unless a miracle happens, it’s pretty much a done deal.

However, many of the more recent graduates pointed out  in comments on the FB meeting invite that the community around my high school is in decay (and to be frank was always low income when I was there 20 years ago), the school itself is bad shape as it was built right after World War II, and the enrollment is less than half (530) of what the capacity can hold (around 1200 students).  Test scores are horrible and there has been a revolving door of administrators.  Parental and alumni support has been negligible. In fact, many of  more recent alumni commented that they welcomed the merger and subsequent building of a new facility as they felt it would benefit the community and future students.

I feel somewhat guilty because I agree with them.

I did not grow up in the community where my high school is located. I got up every morning to catch a 6:20 AM bus crosstown because of the gifted and talented program located there. That was the only reason I went. I enjoyed my time there and the friends that I made, but I don’t really have a strong connection to my high school at all. In 2002, the parents of the students in the gifted and talented program lobbied the district to move the program out of my high school to make it a stand alone one, first at an unused elementary school and finally to a brand new high school located in a gentrifying area right near downtown Houston. When the GT programs moved, the death knell basically sounded for my high school.

I feel bad because I felt like perhaps I should have done more as an alumni, that perhaps I should be more up in arms about this. After all this is a predominately Black and Hispanic community that is about to lose their neighborhood school. On the other hand, my practical side thinks that if the school has basically gone to shit, why shouldn’t the folks in the area, who DO pay school taxes like every other resident of the District get a decent school for their children? Why should their hard earned dollars continue to be used to put lipstick on a pig??? But even worse, why are the people in the community getting outraged NOW? Especially when it’s pretty much too late.

I’ll always cherish the memories, but Myron made a good point when we were talking about it, sometimes growth requires sacrifice.

I wonder if I should have sacrificed a bit more myself.

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5 thoughts on “Sacrificial Lamb

  1. As a long time lurker, this post made me stop and comment as I too went to this same high school as part of the gifted and talented program. The school was actually my neighborhood school. I had been a part of the g&t program since elementary, which meant that I had been catching the school bus at o-dark-thirty to get to school since the age of 7. Due to this, I never attended school with any of my neighborhood friends and was far removed to the “neighborhood” feeling of school. My parent’s moving out of the neighborhood early in my freshman year didn’t help either.

    I have many alumni friends who have continued to be very active and give back via organizing career fairs and other community programs at the school. I now live across the country, but have always tried to support these efforts in ways that I can, mostly monetarily. The #1 hurdle the alumni have faced: getting the community involved. Unfortunately, no amount of community programs will be effective enough if the community doesn’t care enough to get involved. I feel that this closing should not come as a surprise to the neighborhood. They have been discussing closing this school for many years as enrollment and test scores have been on a severe nose dive. The nose dive significantly increased by the removal of the g&t program in 2002.

    Although the gifted and talented program at this school provided me a great education, and the years spent there for high school are some of my fondest childhood memories and provided me with some life long friends, I feel like this move was well overdue.

  2. Sad to say but something should have been done when the test scores started falling, etc. It shouldn’t get to the point where the school is going to close to see outrage. I also think about what more could I do. I go back to my hometown and just shake my head. It is far from the town when I was growing up. It’s sad.

  3. This exact situation happened here. The high school Mister went to was merged with the cross town high school for all the reasons you mentioned. They kept the building but changed the name, the colors, and the mascot. Sadly, the residents were more outraged that they were changing the colors and mascot than the fact the school was closing.

    The residents here just love to complain. Period. And I think that’s true for a large chunk of the population. No solutions being offered, just complaints. And it’s always at the 11th hour. I just throw a side-eye to them.

    I live 3+ hours from my high school. I’m not sure what I would do if I heard it was being merged/closed. I have great memories from high school. It’s hard to fathom what help I can provide as an alumni when distance plays a factor. I do support my law school and undergrad.

    Now I’m going to look into what I can do to support my high school. Good post!

  4. I was watching that OWN show, Blackboard Wars, and I pretty much had the same sentiment. A group from California was sent in to transform a school that they were about to CLOSE. The community is “outraged” because they feel like it’s saying that there’s no one in their community who can fix the school. Ummm…if they were about to close it, I think that was the point? Nobody would, or could when they tried. But now they want to complain about the last ditch effort to save it?

    I didn’t get it. I think sometimes people hold on to memories much more than they should.

  5. I think the hardest thing is thinking that the tradition/memories that people had at the school are going to be no more. It reminds me of how my older Aunts talk about when they had an only black high school and the year they had to leave to go to the “white high school.” There’s always a transition period and things seem bleak, but once all the issues are smoothed out, it’s usually better for all the students involved.

    Your question about being more involved is something that I have been thinking about for myself. Just how much do WE give back or get involved in when it doesn’t effect us directly? I know a lot of black women who are in sororities and they do work there, but what about outside of there? Most of your readers are intelligent people with talents but how often do you hear of them doing something charitable w/their talents? Just something to think about.

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