Daily Press 1987 Bethel High School

13. Jul. 2021
By Alex Nuttall

Alex, Cheryl, Jessie and Mike
Alex, Cheryl, Jessie and Mike

In 1987 we were interviewed at my high school. It was me, Cheryl, Jessie and Lon. We were high school punks. 

I was in tenth grade but I should have been in eleventh. I was in my third high school already. I first went to Denbigh High School, then Ferguson High School and finally Bethel High School. I still did not graduate high school until I went to the Hampton Adult Education Center the summer of 1987. I got my GED there. Or I took classes and then tested and then received my state sanctimonious diploma.

So I failed 9th grade at Denbigh 1984/85, Then I failed 9th again at Ferguson 1985/86. I went to summer school, 1986, at Bethel and finally made it to tenth grade. Then at Bethel High School once I achieved three, count them, three study halls the administrators asked me to leave 1987. So I dropped out of school in 1987.  
1 March 1987 Daily Press Dimensions
1 March 1987 Daily Press Dimensions

The above photo is from a newspaper scanned. If you click on it you can read it. My grandmother saved this. I did not know that she did, but she did. When she died a family member gave this to me.
I weighed 132 pounds back then. I know this because I wrestled that weight class. at Ferguson I wrestled 128 pound weight class. I didn't wrestle for long at Bethel but at Ferguson I wrestled the majority of the season until my mother made me quit due to a call from an English teacher. I used to be very upset about this. My coach, Coach Scott, even offered to help me but I was too stupid to accept help from anyone.

What was interesting about Ferguson High School wrestling was that the local college, Christopher Newport had a wrestling team too. Christopher Newport back in 1986 was a very small school. The CNC (Christopher Newport College) wrestling team did not have a place to practice so we shared our space with them. What was good about this is that the college students wrestled us and were excellent sources of training. They had more experience. 

What I liked the most about wrestling was that the fight was open and evenly distributed by weight class. Unfortunately that was not true for heavy weight wrestlers. They could vary by 40 pounds. But that is not what this is about.

So I left Ferguson in 1986 after I tried to kill myself. I was living in Newport News and I moved to Hampton to live with my father. My mother had enough of me. I think I was lucky that she didn't kill me herself. 

My father took me to Bethel High School in 1986 and it was determined that since I was failing 9th grade for another year I should go to summer school where I would be able to catch up on my English and then be able to transition to 10th grade.

Summer School was actually really good for me. My English teacher was a hippie from the 60s. She and I got along quite well. I did all of my assignments and I tested well. I finished with a 4.0 grade average. I also started writing in 1986. I just decided that I was a poet, an artist, a bohemian. Summer school reemphasized my skill and ability. I also made friends there who were punks.

Bethel High School summer school was for all of the Hampton high schools. The students in the summer of 1986 were from Kecoughtan, Phoebus, Hampton and Bethel.  It was a great way to meet friends from around the city. I lived in a trailer park very close to school so sometimes I walked to school.

After summer school I was a tenth grader. The school year was 1986/87. In April 1987 I quit school. As I was signing all of the paperwork the Dean of Boys and his wife (she worked in the office) approached me and said, "Alex, we think you can get your GED. Please do this. We believe that school isn't for you but you have to complete your education." They handed me a pamphlet and I read it. I saved my paperwork copies and I went home to my trailer. 

About a month later my ex-girlfriend's sister called me.  She dropped out of school also. She said, "Alex, my mom said that if you want to get your GED she will drive us to and from school. I heard that you were going to get your GED. Let's do it."

A month later in the summer of 1987 I was going to class at the Hampton Adult Education Center. My ex-girlfriend's sister stopped going. Her mom told me that if I wanted to continue she would still give me a ride. I kept going. I enjoyed going to school with adults. 

My classmates ranged in age from 16 years old to 75. The demographics were "black" and "white". All working class.

In the summer of 1987 I graduated high school with my General Education Diploma (GED). I went from failing and falling behind my peers to graduating ahead of them. Sure the GED was not as good as the high school diploma, but it showed that I could do the work and I completed the task. 

Once I had my diploma I went to Christopher Newport College and I asked them what I needed to do to become a student. I was given an entrance exam. This was for non-traditional students. I didn't need an SAT. I just needed to be able to do the work. I passed the entrance exam and in the fall of 1987 I became a college student.

I was a philosophy major, of course.  My first day of college was quite amazing. I was going to school beside my old high school, Ferguson where my peers were the class of 1988. They were still stuck in high school while I was in college. 

The cafeteria was bizarre. There I was getting my food and there was beer on ice. Unbelievable, sure. You wont see that today but back then the college student was average age of 25. Young adults were the norm.

Of course I did not finish college. Why would I? I was not used to doing the work. 

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