sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I found this article in the N&O interesting because I am an alumnus of J.W. Ligon Junior High, now
Ligon GT Magnet School.

I've had reason to reflect on Ligon recently as I've covered the High Point school choice plan. For two school years, 1978 and 1979, I was bused from north Raleigh downtown to Ligon. I remember there was a big controversy surrounding the reassignment. My parents were concerned, but when they realized the new assignment would be reality, they went with the flow. One consequence was I lost contact with one of my close friends at East Millbrook when his parents put him in private school.

After about a 20-minute ride,the bus would pull up right next to the Chavis Heights housing complex every morning and let us off at the school. I didn't think much of it, because I didn't even know what a housing complex was. I even noticed a few times that a couple of the brighter kids in school lived there. I never felt in danger the whole time I was there. The only weird thing I remember is one morning being directed straight into the school building after getting off the bus, where normally we were allowed to hang out in the courtyard or play basketball in the gym. We found out later the gym teacher found a wino lying dead outside the gym.

On the whole, the teachers at Ligon were better and the discipline not as bad as they were at my neighborhood school. I made friends with other kids who were bused in from schools in other parts of Raleigh. I also made friends with many of the black kids already there. I even played football in ninth grade. I got beat up pretty bad in practice and hardly played in the games, but had fun nevertheless. I considered it an honor to be part of the same football tradition that gave the sport the pro linebacker John Baker.

While I viewed the choice plan with a skeptical eye, I viewed the anger with which many parents fought the plan with an equally skeptical eye. I understand their concern. But I don't go in for doomsday prophecies. I didn't like the idea of going to Ligon, but I not only survived but thrived. Hopefully, many parents will realize the benefits and the well-meaning intentions of the school system when all is said and done.

Two footnotes: A lot has changed in public schools in the last 25 years. Also, the school bus picked you up at home and took you straight to school and then brought you straight back. No hubs.


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