Recently there was a high School in Fairfax County re-named Justice, but justice is what is being overlooked here in Alexandria. I am a TC graduate and have a child who went to TC, and I live on King Street.
First, I want to say that whether money is spent on sports or academics, or inside or outside the school, even though it is easy to argue that 5 million would go a long way to making sure there is no mold or that boilers work all this winter, for me, is not the crux of the argument. Students who play sports often excel in academics as well, because the motivation, teamwork, friendships and discipline they get from sports helps them manage time, and get work done. It has also been shown physical activity stimulates the brain making it easier to focus in class. So let’s support athletics and sports, and the eight-lane track Gary Carr has been fighting for. All of that will help kids compete on the field and in life.
If this is about scheduling, we are all overscheduled, especially parents, and more time on the field would ease this burden, but convenience should not be the deciding factor.
If this is about football, we would be talking about lights for 10 games a year and nothing else. But the fields would be lighted for many events, and the stadium could be used many nights a week. I wonder where all those people are doing to park, if not in the neighborhoods, or at Bradlee Shopping Center, and walking across a busy intersection. There is not enough parking on the campus for small events in the auditorium. It has been suggested that another site, like behind George Washington Middle School, where a stadium used to be, be considered for a lighted stadium, but this has been dismissed because it is not at TC. The baseball facility, Simpson Stadium, is in Del Ray, not at TC, and certainly the swim team can not compete at Chinquapin, which is not a regulation depth pool. Why not consider other sites?
But if only it were all so simple as lights or no lights. If only history were that simple, and we could just move forward and forget the past. But T.C. Williams (a name that we should consider changing) was put in an African American community which was forced to move, named for someone who supported segregation, and their houses condemned. They were paid only for the land and not the houses, and were not given new houses, but were sold new houses. Many of those families still live on Woods Place, which will be the neighborhood most affected by a lighted stadium. It will probably reduce the value of their houses. People will park in their neighborhood by the back gate. And they were promised three times there would be no permanent lights.
So where is the justice in that? Justice would be caring about the history and making reparations to those families who were forced to move. Justice would be keeping that promise. Justice would be listening to the neighbors. So I want to go on record as saying I stand with justice and the neighbors on Woods Place. Fix Parker Gray Stadium, but delay the lights, until better alternatives are considered.