From a young age, I was lucky to be able to frolic around open fields and woods that I could access easily from my house at the end of a cul de sac. Albemarle is a street that has an entrance you could miss easily that turns down a hill with an old guardhouse that has long since been abandoned at the bottom. From here you can turn either left or right and find a dead end in the form of a cul de sac. Along the main road between these two endpoints are housing on one side and a vast field split by a stream on the other. These fields reach to the edge of a wooded floodplain where Nancy Creek flows through. These fields and woods shaped me at a very young age because my parents allowed me and my friends to spend enter days exploring the area, using our imagination to think we were discovering new lands. Along a suspended water main we forged a path that led to a fort made out of sticks and mud out in the woods that we called our home base which we later removed and replaced with a firepit for warm highschool nights with good friends. In my mind, it was our own little Eden that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
My old house lays at the end of the cul de sac to the left of the entrance and falls just along the edge of the tree line. It is a navy blue with white window sills that’s driveway snakes around the left side and leads to a carport when passed under, flows into a garage around back. An old basketball goal with nothing but a backboard and rim served as a space for friendly competition and downtrodden moments filled with recollection. The porches overlook the woods and can make you feel like you are lost in a dense canopy of green with the sounds of wildlife surrounding you. They were the perfect places to sit out and lose yourself in a book while the environment did its best to mimic the world you were slowly becoming enthralled with. It was something that I took for granted and miss very much having moved away.
A perk of my old neighborhood was that it was less than a two-minute drive to the school I spent most of my educational years at. I considered my school to be part of my neighborhood and it also shaped who I am. From Pre-1st to 12th grade I attended The Westminster Schools gaining the title of an Alpha Omega which I share with many of my friends. I watched as my class size grew from 60 to 205 over 13 years and became close with many of the faces that composed the final number.
The Westminster Schools officially opened in 1951 and was a reiteration and amalgamation of North Avenue Presbyterian School, a girls school, with a new boys school. It operated as a boarding school until the late 1970s where it turned into a day school. They kept men and women separate after junior high through high school until the mid-1980s, changing it to become fully coeducational. With all of this history and years to grow, Westminster developed into a vast property all its own. They have many buildings sprawling across a lot of acreage that is all encircled by a cross-country trail. On one edge of the trail, there is a bridge across Nancy Creek that leads to a summer camp and lacrosse field. The accommodations for extracurriculars are astounding and help to create some of the best sports teams in Georgia.
I began in Love Hall eager to start my education as an elementary school student. It was a place where I met a lot of the people I still call close friends. We would walk through the halls learning everything from cursive to how to test river water only to break when the teachers finally said we could tear up the playground which was nestled up on a hill behind the schoolhouse. It was an idyllic start to learning that nurtured us and created a want to learn.
We moved on to the newly constructed Clarkson Hall which my grade was lucky enough to be the inaugural sixth-grade class to walk its halls. I can’t lie and say middle school was a perfect time that garnered growth, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I spent most of my lunches on the basketball courts as I was one to skip the cliquish lunch table scene in favor of a friendly game of horse with friends and fellow classmates. It was a place where the teachers let you choose how to spend your time outside of class within certain limitations and I thank them for that.
The main campus that holds the High School is quite picturesque. You walk through a wrought-iron gate that holds the school’s seal and then follow a concrete path that winds through the 5 buildings that the older students call home. The Pressly building is nestled in the center of this walkway and stands out with its high white columns and higher education feel. This building is where the senior class spends most of their free time taking over the entryway or the vast patio out front. This patio is where the senior class sits on graduation day and walks the stairs up to the front of Pressly Hall to receive their diploma. I went through this exact ceremony on a sunny May day in 2012. It was the signaling point that I was moving on from this neighborhood and the place I had called home for so many of the developmental years of my life. It was a place I am happy to say I was part of and something that I often can’t believe I was lucky enough to experience.