Let's take a trip to the summer of 1989. President George H. W. Bush was President, acid wash pants and loud colors were the style, and the airwaves were filled with the most awesome music. However, it was the summer that also was met with some skepticism. Both Valley View and John A. Patten graduated their last sixth grade classes. In fact, John A. Patten Elementary was closing its doors and that fall moved all their children to Valley View Elementary School making it K-5. However, unknown to us there was another item that would have a big effect when we went back to school. We found out later a number of African-American students, who lived in St. Elmo, would be attending Lookout Valley Middle/High School. Now before this I had a few friends who were "black", but I did not know a lot of them.
As the first day started I can only imagine what some of these youth were thinking especially as they crossed the railroad bridge on Cummings Highway. We at Valley View had a few students before then who were black. These were the Mason children so seeing more "black" children didn't bother me. However, as new youths came off the bus it was strange. However, I became friends with many of them.
Over the next few month tensions were a little high, but many of the youths came together and became friends. In fact more African-Americans came with the closing of Kirkman High in 1990. Over the next five years we had some problems just like a lot of other schools, and uneducated children caused some issues. However, we became stronger and many of those children are friends to this day.
Our savior loves everyone black, brown, white, straight, gay, atheist, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and so on. Today, I'm glad I have gotten to know everyone I have known over the years. Let's leave the color where it belongs in a box of color sharpies.
To my friends Claude Pepe Mason, Chad Mason, Almondo Hill, Mark Clemons, the Patel Family, and others, thank you for being great friends. Lookout Valley High would have not been the same without you. I look back on 25 years, and I see some gains and some fall backs. However, as the old quote stated, "Rome was not built in a day." We just need to strive for showing love to one another.
Alex McKeel, Lookout Valley