It Is Time.


*Ms. Smith’s Grandson

Devin Stevenson

It is time…This is BIGGER THAN YMLA.

“[Not only did my own son attend school here, but my grandfather also attended elementary school at this campus. My mother attended this campus as well!  There’s a story here, and I think maybe I can tell it…or at least my mom can! This campus was home to generations of the Stop Six community. 

Exactly one year ago, reconstruction officially began when bulldozers demolished our gym. The reality brought a rush of years of games, contests, workouts, and locker room banter. But it wasn’t until recently I realized this construction is BIGGER THAN YMLA. 

YMLA Dream Team faculty, Ms. Angel Smith, shared: ‘When I recently shared a video I’d captured with my mom she expressed, ‘Angel, oh my goodness. I almost cried. I thought they were tearing it down! Please take pictures.’ Her nostalgia recalled, ‘We never had a gym. We played basketball and volleyball outside!”

My grandparent’s and great-grandparents’ properties sit 2 blocks from YMLA. Stop Six is historic, and the facelift feels like history is being erased.

When I told my grandfather I would be working at YMLA, he chuckled, ‘I went to 4th grade at that campus.’  My grandmother (before her battle with dementia) walked the halls and met Mr. White!  ‘Oh, I remember when Michelle and Jeanette came here!’ My mom also walked the halls asking where the cafeteria was and ‘oh this part of the building wasn’t here.’]”

How long have you taught here?

“Since it’s opening, about ten years.” – Mr. Tate

“Wow! I have been in this building for twenty-three years; I also went to school here as a kid. So I went to school here in sixth and seventh grade, when this was Dunbar Middle School.” – Ms. Blackwell

What does this construction mean to you and what emotions does it stir up, if any?

“It means that the district is finally considering us as a legitimate high school, a legitimate program. Actually seeing progress being made. In another sense, I’m happy to see actual concrete and other improvements being made.” – Mr. Tate

Mr. Isaac Tate

“ Well, I’ll tell you this..I’ve seen this school transform. When I went to school here the hallways were really dark and dreary, then my first year working here the hallways were really bright. And I was like, okay! I didn’t think it could improve any more! But the day that they did the demolition to the gym out there, that was…it was sad. I got emotional when I saw it falling down. I can remember playing in the gym when I was in sixth and seventh grade. It was emotional that day.” – Ms. Blackwell

Ms. Colandra Blackwell

What is your reaction to those who may say that this construction is erasing history?

“No! Actually it’s enhancing history, enhancing the community. The main building is still here, so as far as erasing history, that’s not true in my opinion. To me, it’s enhancing the whole school. The whole concept of the whole school is enhancing the community, so I think we need to be proud of what’s taking place. I’m just sad that it has taken so long for them to do so. The first bond that we received for the Cafeteria, should have been $40 []illion the first time around. And everything else, the second time around should have just had money allocated to making things better. It is what it is right now. I guess I should be happy that they’re actually starting to take us seriously and give us some of the amenities and things that we need to compete with other schools.” – Mr. Tate

“I don’t think so. I would say it’s time to move forward, change with the times because there is a need. We have boys in basketball that deserve a competition gym. You know, we have a lot of great programs…we just need the space. It is time.” – Ms. Blackwell