A friend and I lead a similar effort at our high school in Rockville around the same time! We got a few used PCs donated and put Linux on them and somehow got a dedicated phone line to connect them to the net.
Meanwhile there was a free dialup called CapAccess that I somehow had access to that was a text based menu system but could get access to GOPHER! And from Gopher you could get to MUDS!!!!
I just remember thinking “this is so much better than a BBS!”