May 29, 2010 9:28:00 PM
I felt a pang of sadness or regret -- or perhaps nostalgia -- when I read that Lee High School is going to be shuttered. I was a member of the class of 1992, the final class to graduate from the school before its consolidation with Caldwell. Lee High School was the last of a very rare breed: a school nearly 50 percent black and 50 percent white. The school''s demographics mirrored the state''s exactly, and Lee High demonstrated that students of diverse backgrounds and classes could not only co-exist but flourish.
Despite some disappointing football seasons during my tenure (!), Lee High was a leader in athletics for decades. Just a few years before consolidation, the school won back-to-back state championships in baseball. During my four years at Lee, the school won high honors in track, tennis and soccer; and Coach Sammy Smith led our basketball teams to the state''s final four.
In academics, Lee High graduated students to top public and private schools across the South, and teachers like Ron Locke oversaw a challenging and robust AP program. I know that I was grateful to skip Composition I and II at MSU because of my success on the AP Placement Test - and I attribute that success to Mr. Locke. Many others do, too.
I''m now in Jackson with my young family and regret that nothing like a "Lee High experience" is available. Sadly, this is the case across Mississippi. Finding a public school district in Mississippi with a diverse student body is nearly impossible. What a shame for our state and for the children we''re educating. It''s my hope that people in Columbus and across Mississippi will remember the value of an educational experience that includes children from all walks of life. I am so thankful for my experience and Lee High School, and I think I can be bold enough to claim that I speak for thousands of people who came before me.
Wade Overstreet, Jackson