The Final Stop

By Daniel Bodden

Carey Ingram wakes up around 4 a.m. every morning to get ready. At 5 a.m., a time when most FHN students are still sound asleep, he grabs breakfast. He then heads to his bus stop about one-third of a mile away. The walk is quiet and lonely since Carey is the only student at this stop, and the cool, dark air gives a chill to the morning. When the bus finally arrives, usually around 5:40, he heads to the very back, taking the last seat. The ride lasts for 80 minutes, and Carey spends this time listening to relaxing music and attempting to sleep. It isn’t until 7 a.m. that he will arrive at FHN. He has the longest ride of them all: first on the bus and last one off.

This is his senior year.

Switching high schools isn’t new for Carey. FHN is the last on a long list of schools he has attended.

“‘Where wasn’t I?’ is the question,” Carey said. “I was at McCluer, Pattonville, Hazelwood, a lot of schools…To me, it was just like ‘I’m going to another school.’ If I had been at Normandy my whole life, it [the move] might have affected me more.”

When it was announced on July 1 that the unaccredited Normandy chose FHSD to provide free transportation, Carey and his family jumped at the opportunity.

“I was impressed by how professional and nice and consistent the FHSD staff was,” Carey’s father Tony Collins said. “The unity and the whole organization was just magnificent, and that was something I was impressed with. I just wanted the best education, the right education for my son.”

Though Carey has always been a hard worker, he says North gives him something to work towards. He feels that he is better prepared to graduate with the education North has given him. In addition, football has given him a way to connect with his new peers.

Carey has played football since he was 8 years old and has been on the football team at all the high schools he has gone to. He met Varsity Football Head Coach Brandon Gregory at registration and got the details to try out. Gregory says that there have been no conflicts on the team, and the players had embraced the new players before they even met them.

“Carey is proving people who spoke against the Normandy transfers wrong,” Gregory said. “He’s coachable and willing to do and play whatever we ask of him. He also brings a good sense of humor and gets along well with the others.”

Carey was dealt a tough hand of cards that made playing football last year impossible. During the first preseason game, he suffered a partial ACL tear which put him on the bench for the rest of the season. He also suffers from heart problems and asthma.

“I wasn’t supposed to make it past seven, but I was a strong-willed person so, kinda lingered on, and I grew out of it, but then it came back last year and I passed out at Subway and stuff,” Carey said. “Being on medicine, it cleared up. It’s working so far, and I’m living with it. I’ll probably be stuck with it for the rest of my life, but, you know, trials and tribulations.”

Coming back to the sport after his ACL injury healed and being on the team at FHN has helped him build connections and make the transition smoother. Carey’s father has been glad to see this smooth transition and is as happy to see him on the field as Carey is to be out there.

“I was very excited and glad he joined the team,” Collins said. “I want the best for my child and I support whatever he wants to do as his school activities. I love it and I support him 150 percent. I sit back and enjoy watching my son play the game he loves and wants to do.”

But, in the end, coming here for Carey wasn’t about the bus, the drama, the food, or even the people. From day one, he has been focused and determined to receive the education he came for.

“I wasn’t worried about making friends or not making any friends,” Carey said. “I’m just worried about who’s got homework, what I’ve gotta do, and when I start football. I wasn’t worried about friends, so to speak. I came for the education. All the other stuff is for the birds.”