That has made the high school, which is run by the Defense Department and is one of only four secondary schools on military bases in the United States, something of a window into the pain, pride and resentment felt by the families of the all-volunteer military force, which has borne the burdens of 11 years of war.
The high school, which has about 700 students and is open to any 9th to 12th grader who lives on the 100,000-acre post along the Kentucky-Tennessee border, is by definition physically and psychologically cut off from the world outside the gates. But at no time is that sense of isolation more acute than now, when many of the students’ parents are deployed while the rest of the country’s interest in Afghanistan has moved on.
“No one really cares,” Tyisha Smith, a 19-year-old senior, said of the outside world. “Your father goes, gets deployed. War — it’s normal. It’s not like a big deal that we’re still at war.”
But Ms. Smith said she was struggling to manage the pressures of her final year in high school while her father was away and she was living with her stepmother. The reality of his deployment with the 101st Airborne is never far away. “It’s starting to hit me that there’s a possibility that he could die,” she said. “I just hope he comes home.”