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Duval High School 2016 Ratings | Lanham, MD | GreatSchools

Sometimes the weight of the years fell heavy on Martha’s shoulders. Sometimes she didn’t feel like she’d lived one life, but several, sometimes three or four, sometimes dozens of lives. She was 87 when she came back to Duval High School for the 1927 class reunion, but she still had a number of years left to live. Astounding enough that officials with Cathedral Foundation, an arm of St. Johns Episcopal Cathedral, which operated the Stevens Duval, believed 100 former Duval High School students still lived in the Jacksonville area almost 70 years later. Martha found that the worst thing about getting old was that people you knew were always dying. That wasn’t the case in high school.

Martha never married. She belonged to one church for more than 80 years. After graduating from that final class at Duval High School, she went to the University of Florida and became a teacher and then a school principal, spending more than 40 years working for the Duval County Public Schools system. In 1927, Martha was a member of the Duval High School Senior Girls’ Club.

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It could astound her how long things lasted, and it amazed her how fast things changed. She was born only a few years after the Great Fire. In fact, Martha was born the year the old Duval High School building opened. All the grand construction occurred so quickly, first the central building, and then 12 or 14 years later, the two grand annexes that winged it, and five years after that, the school held its last graduating class.

Many of Duval High School’s students lived in Springfield, the lovely Victorian neighborhood just north of downtown. Springfield too changed quickly. In fact, in burgeoned into blossom and began to decay almost immediately thereafter. Maybe Springfield was like Helene Cooke who was “fair as is the rose in May.” What follows May in North Florida is a brutal season of the relentless weathering of all that became beautiful in the spring. Much such beauty has little chance of even making it into autumn.