The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Passing the torch: experiences of WJ legacies

Ryan Oliver, Class of 2021, (left), Melissa Marquez, Class of 1986, (middle), Dylan Oliver, Class of 2025 (right)

In its 68 years of existence, WJ has seen generations come and go. However, every once in a while, a familiar name appears on the incoming freshman roster. A “legacy,” or a student with family who attended WJ, enters the double green doors, equipped with words of wisdom from former students. Today, WJ is home to a myriad of legacies, each with their own unique experiences. Here are just a few:

The Marquez Family

Class of 1986 graduate Melissa Marquez sent both of her sons, junior Dylan Oliver and class of 2021 graduate Ryan Oliver, to carry on her legacy at WJ.

Having attended in the 80’s, Melissa affectionately recalls her experience at WJ. From Debate Team Captain to National Honor Society member, Melissa was an involved and active student. One of her fondest memories was the Homecoming dance.

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“Every class would decorate a hall and make a float. At the Homecoming football game at halftime, the classes would drive their floats around the track, and each class would take turns giving a performance on their float. Decorating our hall, making our float and choreographing and performing our Homecoming routine were some really fun bonding experiences with classmates,” Melissa said.

Since graduating, Melissa has noticed many changes from her time at WJ to today. Notably, the most significant differences include the increase in the amount and range of classes offered and the change in mascot from the Spartans to the Wildcats when WJ and Woodward were merged in 1987.

“The change I notice most is the size of the building and the student body. My graduating class was 215. I think [the junior] class is about 650,” Melissa said. “When I attended, the school was a two-level rectangle – very quick and easy to get from one side of school to the other – and we all had lockers that we actually used between classes…Dylan tells me that no one uses a locker these days [because] sometimes there’s barely enough time to get to your next class.”

Due to his mom and brother’s history, Dylan had a lot of knowledge prior to his arrival at WJ. According to Dylan, his family helped him choose what classes to take and what teachers to look forward to.

“Both me and my brother had Mr. Delello, and now me and [Delello] have a good relationship,” Dylan said. “My friends and I eat lunch [in] his room as well as…wait there in the morning before the first bell.”

The Bhattacharyya Siblings

While many WJ legacies are children of alumni, there are also legacies whose siblings attended and graduated. Senior Sreya Bhattacharyya will graduate this year a legacy of her brother, class of 2014 graduate Sumon Bhattacharyya.

Thinking back to WJ, Sumon remembers his time spent with friends most fondly, eating lunch at G Square or Montgomery Mall and participating in after school activities.

“When I think of my time [at WJ], I think about the friends I made and the teachers that helped guide me to be the physician and person I am today,” Sumon said.

Since graduating WJ, Sumon has pursued his career as a doctor. While this means that he hasn’t been able to revisit his old stomping grounds in some time, he has noticed many changes since 2014.

“I think technology is the biggest. While the iPhone was released prior to my time at WJ, it wasn’t as popular and ubiquitous as it is now,” Sumon said. “There were no Chromebooks and often we didn’t turn in assignments via the Internet.”

As both Bhattacharyya siblings have a passion for STEM, they have shared more teachers and classes than most, like Khanh Chau for AP biology and Aileen Leung for Honors Chemistry and Molecular Biology. For Sreya, this often led to connections with these teachers due to their history with her brother.

“These teachers remember my brother, and often ask how he’s doing,” Sreya said. “In fact, Mrs. Chau even wrote a letter for me to deliver to my brother which was really sweet. I am really grateful that I also had these teachers and I am going to miss them when I graduate.”

Still, because Sumon attended WJ a decade ago, Sreya has had the freedom to cultivate her own, unique high school career.

“In some ways, I think this enhanced my high school experience because it allowed me to make it my own and build my individuality. But also since my brother works as a physician in a different state and I don’t get to see him much, there are times when I wish we did go to high school at the same time,” Sreya said.

The Field Family

Junior Abbie Field and freshman Will Field are currently continuing the legacy of their mom, Lindsay Field, class of 1994 graduate.

Since returning to WJ as an alumna, Lindsay has observed both similarities and differences from the 90s to today.

“Going to WJ is like a time warp. It’s the same halls, the gym, the clock and the lockers…but the math hall is [the] English hall now and the history [hall] has shifted…Some teachers are the same, [like] Ms. McAdory [and] Ms. Cornell…Mr. Kempner is the next generation of Mr. Stamolis for Photography and teaches with just as much enthusiasm,” Lindsay said. “The school has been added to 2-3 times since I went, but still feels the same.”

Lindsay’s years at WJ have supplied Abbie and Will with important information on teachers and classes, from Abbie’s yoga teacher, Janice Cornell, also being her mom’s gymnastics coach, to Will’s theater teacher, Colleen McAdory, also being his mom’s English teacher.

“I took photo when I was a freshman partially because my mom took it and really liked it,” Abbie said.

While their mom did help with typical high school advice, clubs and classes, both of the Field siblings desired to forge their own paths throughout their WJ careers.

“I’m an independent person in general so the classes I took and decisions I made at WJ weren’t influenced by my mom,” Will said.

Still, connections between the Field siblings and their mom’s high school experiences are continuing to be drawn, highlighting the tight network WJ has cultivated.

“My mom remembers…an alleged senior prank that happened before she went to WJ (about cows being brought onto the second floor), [which is] a story that I’ve also heard at my time here,” Will said.

The Flynn Family

Senior Joe Flynn is following in the footsteps of his mom, Class of 1994 graduate Michelle D’Amour Flynn, not only by attending WJ, but also by being an all-star athlete.

During her time at WJ, Michelle found community and accomplishment in the basketball, soccer and volleyball teams, even going to the state finals for volleyball during her junior year. Joe has honored his mom’s legendary high school sports career by competing in varsity football, swim and dive and outdoor track and field.

“[My mom has] always been the example of how high you can go…Seeing what she’s done in the past has always told me to be my best,” Joe said.

Since graduating, Michelle decided to send Joe to WJ to continue the Flynn dynasty.

“We knew the standards of education is wonderful and all the extras that WJ has like the resources for learning disabilities and their athletic programs,” Michelle said.

Today, Michelle has continued her involvement at WJ, supporting Joe on and off the field.

“She comes to every game or meet she can. When she was attending WJ she was always one of the best players on the court and I always strive to be as good as her,” Joe said.

The Stokes Family

Class of 1995 graduate Kim Stokes’ WJ legacy lives on through her children, junior Olivia Stokes, freshman Henry Stokes and class of 2022 graduate Ethan Stokes.

Throughout her high school career, Kim led an enriched life both academically and socially. Playing on the tennis and swim and dive teams, participating in Best Buddies and attending a History department trip to France and Germany were highlights of her time at WJ.

“I met my husband Robb when I transferred to WJ,” Kim said. “Friends of ours set us up, and the rest is history.”

Like with many other legacies, Kim was a big help in preparing for high school, especially in choosing classes and activities.

“When first entering high school, they made the transition a lot less stressful,” Olivia said. “Going into such a big school can be scary, but they gave reassurance that it would be lots of fun.”

It’s not every day that entire families attend the same high school. However, the Stokes and their three children have or will have graduated from WJ.

“I think it’s pretty cool that both my parents graduated from WJ. And I think it’s cool that all three of their kids are graduating from the same high school that they did,” Olivia said.

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Sara Elster, Print News Editor
Senior Sara Elster is looking forward to her first year on the Pitch as a Print News Editor. When not writing for the Pitch, Sara enjoys baking, practicing taekwondo, and hanging out with friends.
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