AHS Veteran Educator of AHS reflects on past

Assistant+principal+Jamie+Carayiannis+works+in+his+office+after+school.

Christine Tamir

Assistant principal Jamie Carayiannis works in his office after school.

“I’d much rather be a student here now, than back then,” assistant principal Jamie Carayiannis said this past Wednesday at a press conference.

“Carayiannis was a three-sport athlete during his years as a student at AHS and was a great student all-around,” assistant principal Pamela Gravitte said. He graduated from AHS in 1996, and mentioned that there wasn’t much diversity there at the time.

“In 1976, there were approximately 2,400 students and 99 percent of the students were white and of the middle class,”  Carayiannis said. There was only one African American student and one Asian student.

However, in 1987, after Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) turned into a magnet school, the former students of TJHSST were transferred to AHS, which caused a major change of the Annandale community.

“There was already a natural friction between the students of both schools because of their rivalry,” Carayiannis said. “There was racial tension because of the diaspora of Middle Eastern, Asian and African American students into a primarily white school.”

“In the 1960s and 1970s, Atoms dominated in football and a variety of sports but there was downturn of sports programs because of the caliber of the sport athletes,” Carayiannis said. School involvement also dropped as a result of the increased diversity, partly because of the language barriers.

Although Carayiannis was not present at the time when the Annandale community was becoming more diverse, he mentioned good aspects for the Annandale community after the mixing of different cultures in AHS.

“Diversity is important and beneficial to one’s growth,” Carayiannis said. Allowing for a cultural infusion and exposure to people of different cultures and viewpoints provides students with a better learning environment, and allows students to actively engage with people of different backgrounds and learning styles.

The AHS sports teams also benefited from the integration of TJHSST students. 1988 and 1989 were good years for sports because of the high athletic performance and caliber hidden among the former TJHSST students. While the sports programs benefit from the integration of different cultures and races, academics were at a much lower standard than they are now.

“The level of academic performance is better now than back then when they had only a standard level of math,” said Carayiannis. “After someone completed Algebra 2, they were done with math, as there were no more math requirements.”

“I think that the reason that academic performance is much better now because standards, expectations and availabilities of classes and other things are much higher now,” Carayiannis said.

“The future of AHS and the Annandale community are good, and are turning on the upswing,” Carayiannis said.  “As at this time in AHS, diversity has increased at a much larger scale.”