The Ghost of Air Academy Past and Present: Which One is Better?

An old Jetstream Journal publication cover proudly shows what Air Academys past was like. Photo taken by Mary Anderson.

An old Jetstream Journal publication cover proudly shows what Air Academy’s past was like. Photo taken by Mary Anderson.

Do you ever notice how movies that portray high schools in the past always seem so fun and exciting? Grease, The Breakfast Club, Footloose and other movies surrounding the “high school experience” always seem to inspire feelings of nostalgia. Disappointment is a common feeling when faced with the thought: things just seemed better back then. But, was Air Academy High School really better back in “the olden days,” or is it just a trick of time?

AAHS has a long and exciting past that many students may not realize. Founded September 3, 1957, Air Academy was originally named Pine Valley Secondary School before being changed to Air Academy Junior/Senior High School, right before the beginning of its first school year.

The first-year student body of AAHS consisted of 132 students; all taught by nine teachers and staff members. The first graduation had nine students participating in the ceremony and seven receiving a diploma.

While reading through many old yearbooks and seeing the activities and things they were doing, it’s hard not to think that it truly was a simpler time.

Students were square dancing at school.  AAHS offered a special “Poor Boy’s Hot Rod Club,” where boys could work on and talk about cars in garages. (The garages have since been replaced with the Ceramics classroom.) They had sports and activities such as cheerleading, basketball and football that the students could enjoy. Is there honestly anything the old students of AAHS were missing out on?

History teacher and track coach Lee Routsong has been teaching at AAHS since 1990. He has seen the many changes that the school has gone through and has been through some of the good and bad times.

“It just seems like the students are not as connected with the school as they were in the past, which is hard… when we used to have more sports assemblies the students would show school spirit and they would get more excited about the rivalry against the other schools,” Routsong said. He also talked about how school tradition is less prevalent and the students are not as enthusiastic as they used to be.

Former senior Natalie Girvin agrees with the lack of school spirit.

“I think people’s attitudes [about school spirit] have changed a lot,”  Girvin notes. “I think people get more excited about sports when they first start at the school, but as it has gone on, people are less excited.”

However, while it may seem that high school has only worsened as the years tick by many things make the school year of 2020 special in its own way.

Students of Air Academy past have missed out on the technology side of learning. Students are now able to access millions of articles, studies and other helpful tools that help them succeed in school. The world is within a few seconds of typing into a search bar. What would school have looked like in the midst of a national pandemic in 1957?

Another graduate, Kailey Baldwin, laments the downside of technology-based learning.

“I feel like as the years went by, a lot of classes became a lot more online heavy.” Baldwin said, “Assignments were almost always turned in online in a lot of classes.”

The fact that technology is very present is something that cannot be ignored and there is often a debate surrounding the pros and cons of an online world. However, no matter the downsides of technology there will always be more advancing steps that make everyday life just a little bit easier. Most people don’t want to type a 5-page essay on a type writer.

And while the case can be made that tradition is not as sought out at AAHS as it used to be, there are plenty of beloved celebrations that go on each year. Many students enjoyed Senior Sunrise and class color day that prevailed through new guidelines set in place because of the national pandemic (even if they weren’t quite the same). Many students are also seeking out ways to enjoy some of the other traditions such as homecoming, football games and prom to keep the traditions of AAHS alive.

So, when looking back at the past with fondness, remember that while things are different, they are not necessarily worse. When faced with the question of whether the past or the present is better, it is important to remember that each year and each generation brings new and exciting things with them. The good about living now is we have the benefits of the modern world and the rich tradition of the past.

Anyone up for a poodle skirt and Taco Bell run?


If you want to check out some old Jetstream Journal publications go to Jenny Beth Maynard’s staff profile and look for “The Jetstream Flashback” stories.