I was very interested in what Paul Cale Jr. wrote about his dad, Paul Sr., in the December paper. The article was well-written, but long and often not on the topic being discussed. Like Paul, I admired and respected Mr. Cale for what he was and what he achieved, but I think it is productive to examine past events because they have so much relevance to the present.
Albemarle County has undergone vast changes and Crozet is a good example. All of these changes—economic, social, political and educational—are reflected in our leaders and in many cases magnified beyond reality.
I graduated in the second year Albemarle High opened and about the same time as the Brown court decision on integration. I started in a one-room school at Mountfair that housed four grades taught by one teacher. I walked four miles to do that, since the bus only travelled the main roads.
The school system offered 11 grades then to graduation. Another postgraduate class was added after I graduated but too late for me to get all the math I needed to enroll in engineering at U.Va. Only one of my siblings graduated from high school. The dynamics of distance, work and family resources pressured them to go to work.
I say this from my experiences because I know why integration and inequality of opportunity in all areas had to be confronted. The condition was worse then and still is for the most needy, and that was true for schools housing black and white students. I wish we could discard all labeling of people because you can’t do justice to an individual or group. It is rare that any person fits a label as liberal, conservative, racist, Republican or anything else in all aspects of their life.
We need to downplay the verbage and focus on the actions to find the true person. I succeeded Mr. Hurt upon his retirement and served Albemarle for 35 years. I, and every human, have our flaws, but like Mr. Cale, I hope I am remembered for the good rather than accent the flaws.
I have hoped and worked for more progress, but there is no way to do that until we equalize the environment we experience primarily in the areas of health care, nutrition, inequality and education. Public education is the last bastion of our democracy and it is the responsibility of local school officials, school boards and those entities that control the resources to fund them. Our stratified and divided society will make that difficult, so it literally depends on you and me to challenge those decision makers.
Ed. Note: Mr. Raines began his career as a teacher at Albemarle High School in 1959 and retired as its principal in 1995 after 11 years in the post. He is now retired from the University of Alabama at Huntsville.