Here is a sampling of Woodson High's class of 1980, a look at what has happened to five young men and five young women:
Tracey A. Napper, who had nearly an A average and ranked 17th in her class at Woodson, was named the "most intellectual" of the class of 1980. Now, as a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering at Catholic University, she said she has had the shock of the first F in her life, and is deeply disappointed with her C average. Napper said she feels less prepared than many other CU students, but is convinced she can make up the ground.
Bernita Bland, a C student at Woodson, is working at the salad bar and the cash register during the lunch hour at Arthur Treacher's restaurant in Crystal City, the latest of several low-paying jobs she has held. "It's been pretty hard since I left Woodson," she said. Much of the time, she has been unemployed, "and the jobs I've had, they just aren't enough. I am just trying to get up a little higher than this." While working part time, Bland is taking business courses at the University of the District of Columbia, hoping to get a job as a clerk-typist and wishing now she had had more training in high school.
Calvin R. Lynch, who said he was "not-too-outstanding" as a student at Woodson, is now Marine Lance Cpl. Lynch, stationed at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in Havelock, N.C. He is a hydraulics expert, specializing in vertical takeoff aircraft. Lynch enlisted, he said, mainly for the benefits of "free medical care, food, a place to live -- and a check" that is now $618 monthly. "My reason for being here is practical and not patriotic," he said. "But since I've been in, I have become a little more patriotic. I feel a little more American."
Alonzo Moses, who never planned to go to college like his twin brother Alphonso, is now a GS-4 data technician with the Internal Revenue Service, earning $12,000 yearly. His job is moving and delivering computer equipment, and Moses, who began the job two years ago, is pleased with his progress. "From what I hear, many of the Woodson people can't find no jobs and they end up selling drugs and getting in trouble. But a lot of Woodson kids are making it, and I think I am one of them."
Dennis G. Curtis graduated from Woodson with low grades and no job-related skills, he said. He has been jobless for 18 months, with the exception of a brief $2.65-an-hour job as a stock clerk at a downtown card shop. "I feel bad about all this," he said. "I get depressed and just walk around and think . . . I tried my best at Woodson. Some of the teachers make sure you learn good, but some of them don't hardly make sure." He said he is thinking about moving to Atlanta to live with relatives and look for work there.
Money problems and low grades led Phyllis Becks to decide to drop out of Howard University, she said. The tuition, $1,032 each semester, was "too much to pay," she said. Becks said she earned mostly Cs and Ds as a college freshman. "I felt that the kids from outside Washington were a little bit ahead of me. They just seemed more advanced." Becks is a part-time clerk-typist at the Department of Transportation and plans to enroll at the University of the District of Columbia, where tuition is about $200 a semester. She hopes to be an accountant.
Anthony Robinson is editor of The Onyx Informer, a black-student newspaper at Northeastern University, where he is a sophomore majoring in communications. Robinson said he is worried about keeping his grades up so he doesn't lose roughly $3,000 in yearly student aid. He takes pride in having rejuvenated the 3,000-circulation newspaper, and hopes someday to own a radio station.
Walter L. Coates II quit Marymount College of Kansas after a year, he said, because he was getting Ds and didn't think it was worth the money. He has transferred to Kansas Technical Institute in Salina, a less-expensive two-year school. He's living with relatives, earning $32.50 a week as a baby-sitter at a bowling alley and hoping for a career in computers.
"It's really hard to find a job," said Mary Ratiff, who maintained a near B average at Woodson. "I don't feel too optimistic." Ratiff is working as a $4-an-hour temporary mail clerk at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but worries about finding steady full-time work. She left the National Business College of Roanoke last year because of the cost, $3,000 a year. She found classes difficult, she said, "and I didn't like it that much for that much money." She is now a part-time student at Southeastern University here, hoping to be a computer programmer.
Helena Daniels did well enough at Woodson to get into Howard University, where she received $1,536 in financial aid and planned to become a neurologist. But she dropped out of Howard for financial reasons, she said. She now is making $210 a week as a computer operator for the Natonal Council of Senior Citizens, and saves $100 every two weeks with hopes of returning to Howard in 1984 to pursue a medical career. She said it is crucial to her to keep her sights firmly fixed on her goal. "Some of my friends said they would never work at McDonald's, but they ended up there. I made a promise to myself never to work in a restaurant, and I still have that."