COLLEGE STATION, Texas — What used to be the old College Station Police Department two years ago, is now ILTexas Aggieland.
“When we first got here, all of these walls were bare,” said one senior as she pointed out all of the colorful posters and informative graphics pasted on the walls leading to classrooms.
She’s walking the hallways with four of her friends, all in matching uniforms, except one who admittedly, didn’t have time to put it on that morning.
All of them are laughing and sharing memories of their time together.
“This is our gym, our cafeteria,” began one student.
“A multipurpose room!”, shouted another.
“We call it our multipurpose room,” the first student said while laughing.
After spending an hour with these students it was obvious this school was more like a home and this group, minus another 20 who are slated to graduate Thursday, was more like a family.
“We’ve done a lot of things together, we’ve always been there for each other,” Jacob Wise said.
“We’ve supported each other on the way there.”
The young adults met when ILTexas College Station K-8 first opened.
”It’s been really cool to see that growth and know that you helped provide a legacy and create things for more generations,” Micah Smith said with a smile.
Unlike being picked first in gym class, being the first class to walk the state at this institution was less than ideal.
The students explained how there were hurdles they had to overcome by not having a traditional high school experience.
They were tasked with creating sports teams and after school clubs, all at the ages of 14 and 15.
“It was also a bit frustrating because while you are still building and growing you aren’t where you want to be,” Smith said.
Nonetheless, they did it and created spaces for younger generations to take the charge of.
“We’re leaving Ronald McDonald-size shoes to fill,” Josslyn Timbs said with a smile, thinking about her predecessors.
But when the 15ABC camera seemingly went away and the group of students were in a classroom with one teacher and their principal, all you could hear was a loud:
“I’m so proud of y’all!”
While it came out of her own mouth, proud may have be an understatement for Principal Linda Birdwell.
“I knew them as children, but now they really are young adults,” she said after an emotional afternoon listening to the interview the group did for this story.
She started off as their teacher first, now their principal.
“I’m just so proud of them and what they’ve become,” Birdwell began. “I know that it’s genuine with them.”
And as these seniors turn the corner, they face the rest of their lives knowing they’ve had this experience together.
“I’m really holding in the thought to cry right now because all of the things they’re saying are like wow, we really did all of that,” Timbs said, softly.
The class of 2023, the first group of graduates from ILTexas Aggieland High School, have all been accepted into college and have raised over $3 million dollars in scholarships to help them on the next leg of their journeys.