TNHS NHP UNHP

I went to high school in a barn. Don’t get the wrong idea; I’m not from some small hamlet out in the rural boonies of the American South. I lived smack in the middle of the suburbia that often surrounds big cities; in this case the central city was Dallas, Texas, the suburbs that served the school: Irving and Las Colinas and Coppell and Valley Ranch.

I lived in a gated community with apartments right outside the mostly decorative red brick gates. You couldn’t turn your head without seeing matching rows of houses, condos, apartments, developing communities, duplexes. The K-12 school that serviced the families that lived in these places was called The North Hills School. Until it wasn’t. A year after I started there, the name changed to North Hills Preparatory. And then the school joined a little group of schools two years later and the name changed again to Uplift North Hills Preparatory. No one really knew what to call it and on any given day you’d come across sweatshirts monogrammed TNHS, or NHP, and towards the end of my time there, UNHP.

North Hills started when a group of old people seeing the need for a school in the area, purchased a set of disused stables from the Las Colinas Equestrian Center and converted the stalls into classrooms, the corral into a playground and the offices into…well those stayed offices. The school grew and North Hills bought more and more land from the equestrians. Like colonists and natives, students and horses coexisted uneasily; one knowing the other would soon take over.

For a time we shared the polo field. During the week it was a soccer field, a grassy track, a kickball field, anything we needed it to be. On Sunday mornings big tents were erected and horses prepared for shows practicing cantering and trotting and leaping and polo-ing and whatever else horses do.

And then the school needed a multiple purpose center and the polo field fell to the colonists too.

When I left over a year and a half ago there was one remaining set of stables, used only on competition days when equestrians from across North Texas would come to compete, and one large corral where horses would practice their dressage, high-stepping in circles over and over.

I was on Facebook the other day and came across a picture posted by my high school academic counselor. They’re tearing down the stables, creeping closer to that last corral. One last battle remains, the final frontier of the equestrian center and soon the students will take that too. Soon the barn I went to school in will be a school that horses went to compete in.

I know I was one of the colonists. I was one of the children in the ever-growing student population that forced the equestrians and their horses out of their home. And yet, I am disappointed. I can’t help but feel that without the horses and the manure smell and the dogs and the vets and equestrians and trainers, my school is not what it was. It will not be the same place. When I arrived the area was half-school half-barn. When I left it was 75% school. Now its inching towards 100, and when it reaches that it will no longer be where I went to school, because I went to school in a barn and I, much like the rest of the people who went to The North Hills School, take a strange sort of pride in that fact.

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