Can’t Get Enough of FCHS

Mitchell Pace and Angela Washington from the 1995 FCHS 

FCHS Journalism

Mitchell Pace and Angela Washington from the 1995 FCHS Yearbook

Some of the most memorable and influential years of a person’s life come from time spent in high school, and even though the high school experience is different for everyone, there are some things that never change. But trends and ways of teaching do change as time goes by. Based on the testimonies of teachers who lived their high school experiences in Fluvanna, readers can truly see how their experiences are both different and similar.


High school may have changed over the years, but it appears to have been just as stressful and drama-filled in the 60’s-80’s as it is now. Janice Grandstaff (‘66) was valedictorian of her class, and she always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Sherron Haley (‘71) said she was also serious about her grades, and she loved playing basketball. “I lived in the era of 8 track tape players, black and white TV, and typewriters. Since we didn’t have the hand held calculators, we used slide rulers.” Few students today realize that if you made a mistake while typing on a typewriter you often had to start over. Just thinking about that is enough to make students today grateful for the technology they have available.

During the 80’s, when Sara Miles (‘81) and Margo Bruce (‘86) went to school in Fluvanna the county was very different from today. [It was] “more of a rural, farming community with[out] any of the stores, gas stations, [and] places that we have now (except for E.W.’s),” who also noted that while she was in high school the football team made it to the state playoffs, and the girls’ basketball team won the state championship. As for Bruce, students might be surprised to learn that she was actually sent to ISS, but it was her first and last time. “It was too strict and boring for me to return,” she said. Bruce also admitted to having been voted Class Clown (although she insists she “tried to be serious”).


The only teacher at FCHS who went to high school during the first half of the ‘90’s was Samantha Lewis (‘91). While here, she played on the basketball team and says she loved spirit week and pep rallies. Most Americans had cell phones at the time, although pagers were considered a big technological achievement. (Pagers would beep when you received a call and display the number of the person who had called; you then had to find a land phone to call them back.) Lewis said she never had ISS, but admitted that she did have morning detention once. “I thought that 20 minutes would never end!” she said. Angela Washington (‘96) said she also had detention, but that she had it in both the mornings and the afternoons (and much more than once).

A graduate of the Class of ‘96, Mitchell Pace described high school as being “one of the easiest times of life . . . sports, friends, and all the drama that seems important actually means nothing.” There are kids who have crazy ideas about what they would do at school if they could, but playing football on the roof of the school definitely makes the top ten, and Pace

Only a few teacher alumni interviewed said they planned on becoming teachers after high school, and Ann Jennings (‘97) was one of them, although she said she had hoped to be a drama teacher, not an English teacher. Today, many people take the Internet for granted and expect to be able to find any information in the blink of an eye. Yet for Jennings, that wasn’t the case. “My senior year was the first year, I believe, that my family had internet.  It was very, very slow. Waiting for a page to load took minutes, not fractions of a second.”


Jennifer Herner (‘99) is another teacher who didn’t originally intend to teach. Instead, she had thought to become a doctor. Herner was never in ISS, but Nick Ward (‘99) was sent there (once). Ward’s high school experience also included a successful senior prank. “[We] camped out in the teacher parking lot and blocked it the next day so teachers and admin[istration] had to park in the gravel student lot,” he said.

“Four years full of mischief and good times,” is how FCHS guidance counselor Stacey Holland (2005) described high school. “Whenever we had a sub, I would always ask them a million questions about themselves and their family so we didn’t have to do any work. My peers appreciated this! Students used to smoke in the bathroom–it was awful– until they got cameras, and bomb threats were a common occurrence,” she said. One of her most vivid memories was when she and some friends “were going to [a] friend’s house party and accidentally ended up at a teacher’s house party…talk about weird!” When asked if she was ever sent to ISS, Holland said, “Ha, I plead the 5th!”

The youngest of the teacher alumni in this article, Ashley Wilson, graduated from high school in 2007. “Cell phones were only just starting to be popular when I was in high school and smartphones did not exist yet.  We used to pass actual hand-written notes in class instead of texting each other, and we were pretty good at it,” she said. Wilson was valedictorian of her class, performed in the color guard as well as winter guard in the spring, and worked a part-time job while still keeping a 4.0 GPA.

The FCHS teachers obviously lead very different high school careers, but the stress, drama, and other overwhelming struggles stay the same through every decade.  But, despite the bad memories from high school, there are also good memories made from fun experiences with friends.