Centennial Writing Project - Part II

Betty Pearson White
A Story to Tell
What is one day you remember as a student at PDS/USN?  Was there a time which was entertaining, interesting, edifying, or simply fun?  We’re looking for your stories.

Our ninth grade students are continuing to capture narratives of our alums during their time at PDS/USN, and they’ll like to interview you. We’d love to hear any memories you can share.  As part of our Centennial celebration, we will be displaying narratives for all of us to read and enjoy during the month of May, and we’ll be posting stories online.  

Maybe you have a certain memory of your time during the chaotic 70’s.  Maybe you were a student here during the Transition in 1975.  Maybe you are one of our sports stars or managers, a thespian or technician, a writer for the newspaper or literary magazine, an artist or illustrator.  Maybe you helped paint Myles Maillee mural, or maybe you recall dissecting that pig in biology before we had air conditioning. Did you travel afar with People to People or one of our exchange programs, or were you one of our exchange students?   Perhaps you studied Architectural Design with Mr. Ralph or enjoyed Mrs. Ralph’s cinnamon rolls when the cafeteria was up on the top floor. 

Maybe you recall spending hours at Scarritt during the bomb threats of the ‘80’s or hiding in the stairwell during the tornado of 1998?   Maybe you played basketball on the buckled floor at Wesley Hall or hit a tennis ball over the fence onto 21st when the tennis courts were there.  Or perhaps you have an amusing anecdote about a project or group presentation. 

Whatever it is, we’d love for you to share.  
We welcome all memories, whimsical or serious, large or small.  We’d love to talk with you.  Our students are excited about learning more about our school and the days of yore.  Enjoy the narrative about naming the school, written by A. J. Dykens-Hodapp ’17 and told by Rob Laird '86.  Then pick up the phone and volunteer to share your story.

If you are willing to have a student contact you for an interview, please contact Betty (Pearson) White (bwhite@email.usn.org) or the alumni office (bmccauley@usn.org).  Interviews may be handled by email, phone, or in person.  In only a few minutes of your time, you can make someone else smile and remember.
                                 Our Title                             
Rob Laird ‘86 moved to Nashville in 1974 from Columbia, Tennessee and enrolled in Peabody Demonstration School as it was then called. One year prior the school had lost funding from Peabody. A group of devoted parents and teachers raised money and kept it open, independent of Peabody, and with a brand new name
The year was 1974, the heart of the disco, afro, and Go-go boots; the Grateful Dead was touring the country, Gerald Ford was president and I had just started second grade.

I sped down the main hall to get to the classroom overlooking the front lawn. I jogged through the hall, watching the backs of my friends, Scott Baker and Demetri Stokes, while also trying not to get crushed by the massive 18 year old bodies. “Bennie and the Jets” was blaring from a cheap radio, as Ms. Mazur bulldozed a path through the hallway, packed wall to wall with high school students. We arrived in the classroom and were ushered into our seats. I wanted to eat lunch; I wanted to go to P.E. Why did we have to vote on the name of our new school? I would much rather be at lunch; this was boring, I was starving.

Ms. Mazur quieted down the class and distributed pencils and paper. The high school students had decided on three names:  Nashville Academy, Phoenix Academy, and University School of Nashville. I thought Phoenix Academy would be a cool name, as we had risen from the ashes of PDS, plus Phoenixes are sweet.   I was tied between USN and Phoenix Academy. I peered around, and most of my friends either went with Phoenix or USN, but I still didn’t know which name to pick. I thought about it a little more; Phoenix would probably only be cool for a year or so. I checked USN and when the votes returned the next day USN had won by a landslide. To this day I am pleased with the name, and so happy I voted that day. I feel it accurately represents all the values that the University School of Nashville entails.
Following high school Mr. Laird received his bachelors majoring in English from Tulane University, and received his MBA in Finance and JD from The University of Tennessee. Mr. Laird still lives with his family in Nashville, and their son and daughter now attend USN. An outdoor enthusiast, Rob enjoys camping, running and biking.  
                                                                     Alexander Dykens-Hodapp

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