Old Friends, New Friends…New Old Friends
|My Hamilton Park Elementary School Classmates (Then and Now)|
What a difference 20 years makes ! That’s how long it’s been since I have been with the group that helped shape my life forever ! This year, thanks to Alissa and Dana (fellow classmates) we reconnected and here go the memories…Walking the halls of our HUGE elementary ( it was once a high school), the shenanigans of some classmates, the fear of others, and the deep, life-long bond that is proven that we all share. I knew my ties to Hamilton Park (or HP, if you really know) would always run deep. I grew up there, my grandmother still lives there, and the root of who I am as a person all began there.
On the night I was to see them after soooo long, I admit, I was a little nervous. Who are we now ? Am I going to see the same Josie who I use to pass notes too? What about Jasmin, who could ‘set you straight’ in a heartbeat ? And, Don, who knew he was there for a ‘GOOD’ time, not a LONG time ! When I walked in to the room, my first thought was ‘Who are these grown-ups?’ It seemed like only yesterday that we were competing for Best Speller….now, we were updating on kids, marriages, and careers. Great parents, business owners, entertainers- that’s who are now ! That is what came out of Hamilton Park ! I looked around at the faces- some were slightly different ( a mustache, longer hair, etc..), and some looked the same as they did when we were 10 !!
When we were at Hamilton Park, we (as most kids) were in our own world…Weapons in school ? Only if a ruler counts. Drugs ? Well, I think we were all on Flinstone Vitamins ! The world around us was changing, but we remained the same. Free to learn, Free to thrive, and just Free to Be ! We were Hamilton Park !
One of the interesting facts about Hamilton Park is that it was originally an all Black high school, founded in the 1950’s. By 1975, it was an integrated school in a predominately Black community. Most of the White kids ( and a few who were Black) were bused in from other communities. By the time I started at HP, busing was not a big issue. No racial issues of any kind, that I can think of. However, we were a unique blend.
Dubbed a ‘guinea pig’ school, due to it’s strict racial balance for the purpose of strengthening integration, we were fortunate to have programs and advantages that other area schools did not. HP was the only school in the District that offered Spanish at that time. We were on computers before we really knew what they were. Parents from other communities volunteered to send their kids there, and eventually a ‘waiting’ list to get into the school was needed. A waiting list to get into a ‘public’ school ? That speaks VOLUMES ! And, now, for whatever reason- the state of the world in the late 80’s or the environment in which were able to thrive in, we are each a thread and Hamilton Park is the fabric that bonds us forever ! A diverse group of young people who were thrown together by chance, not knowing the impact would last a lifetime…
Now, Am I going to have to get to know these people ALL over again ? Sure ! Why not ? It was great the first time around….