Arlingwood Unit 10: Parker School Road

by Tim Gilmore, 7/15/2012

The band at Terry Parker High School in Arlington sounds sharp this year. Terry Parker is the “Home of the Braves.” Their mascot looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger as a generic American Indian. Terry Parker is Public School No. 86, named after the local businessman who made a “generous donation” to found the school in 1956. Parker paid for half the cost of seating and lighting installations for the school’s athletic fields two years later. In 2008, an alumnus tells a University of North Florida professor she doesn’t think “nigger” is a bad word anymore, because she had white teachers at Terry Parker who used the word. On September 3rd, the football team plays (confederate general) Robert E. Lee High School and on September 24th, they play (founder of the Ku Klux Klan) Nathan Bedford Forest High School. In May, police arrest a 21 year-old high school student for trying to stab a teacher. The student has already been arrested on three separate occasions for attacking Terry Parker school officials. Only one teacher at Terry Parker High School knows that Jacksonville has a 47 percent functional illiteracy rate. She wonders if a couple of the school’s other teachers fall into that category. One cheerleader feels particularly happy one autumn Friday night after a home game against Sandalwood. She doesn’t know who won, but she knows the moon is bright and nearly full over the football field and bleachers mostly empty and that something about that convergence brings her true joy, and she thinks, “I’m goddamn-motherfucking-happy, and there is nothing wrong with that, goddammit. Look at that moon. Something feels like an accident, something feels happy tonight, and here I am.” The color guard captain feels sad to see the band director retire after 34 years of teaching. He’s a good man. The band is like family. Under his direction, the color guard has learned to think of herself as a leader. Under Ward Green’s direction, the Terry Parker High School Band has played at the Kentucky Derby, at inaugural parades for two presidents, at events in “New York City, Guatemala, Cozumel, the Bahamas.” One teacher at Terry Parker knows that Jacksonville has a 47 percent functional illiteracy rate. Cheerleader thinks, “Something feels happy tonight, and here I am.”