Another successful reunion

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another Booker T. Washington High School Reunion is behind us, and many of us thought that we must be doing something right because the threatened inclement weather never arrived. Instead the weekend turned out to be beautiful in spite of the brief rain shower on Sunday that came during the picnic.

We rented the Suffolk Shrine Club on Elizabeth Street for the entire weekend. Each year we recognize a profession that former students chose for a career and this year we honored members of law enforcement past and present.

The event and the dinner-dance began last Friday at 6 p.m. During that activity, Gail Hinton-Copeland and I called out each year that a class graduated from the school, which began on Lee Street and closed on Walnut Street. These years included classes from 1937-1969. When the year was called, the students that graduated in that year came out to the dance floor. When the last year was called, students formed a circle, joined hands and sang the school system.

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The breakfast was held on Saturday at 9 a.m. During that time honorees were presented with trophies and certificates by Sandra Scott, a graduate in the class of 1962. Ernest Goode, a graduate in the class of 1964, was guest speaker.

A chartered bus driven by the Rev. Isaac Baker transported us to Portside at 8 p.m. for a private boat ride on the Carrie-B.

We left the dock at 9:30 p.m. and ate and danced on the top deck to the music played by a DJ until 12:30 a.m.

On Sunday at 11 a.m. a church service was held with the Rev. Edward Gardner, a graduate in the class of 1960, serving as guest minister.

Second Chance, a gospel group, was the guest musical group and the BTW Alumni Choir also performed.

The final event, a picnic, was held on Sunday at 3 p.m. The entire reunion concluded about 9 p.m.

The association is grateful for the following people and their services: Ann Harrell and Evelyn Goodman, caterers for the dinner and breakfast; Carolyn Holland, William Davis, William Goodman, John Artis, John Davis, Fletcher Davis and Terry Davis, assistant and cooks for the picnic; Cliff Edwards, Corey Banks, William Dunn, Jordan Patrick and Charnelle Banks, furniture arrangers and cleanup personnel after each event;

Berniece Wright, food for boat ride; Lenora Maddox and Dorothy Peebles Holland, decorators; and William and Hope Dunn, bartenders.

A big thank you is extended to Benford Hunter, who served as DJ for the entire event and Melvin Hobson from California who videotaped reunion activities.

I think that this was one of the best-attended reunions since they began in 1987. About 250 students, friends and spouses attended at least one activity; and as usual, more out-of-town students attended than in-town students.

When I have covered or attended other school and class reunions I have always heard that this is the number one problem. I can truly say that I had a ball and know that you don't know whom you will meet until you get there. You can always make new friends while re-acquainting yourself with old ones.

The biggest excuses that we get are as follows: "We didn't get a letter telling us about it," or "We didn't know when the activities were going to take place."

Virginia Barnes, the president of the BTW Alumni Association, said it best in her remarks when she made the following statement: "You need to let us know your addresses..we make ourselves known enough so that you always know where we are, but we don't always know where you are."

Even though we sponsor these reunions to keep our school alive, our biggest focus is to raise money for scholarships. These scholarships are presented to children, grandchildren and students or guardians of alumni members. If you are not an active alumni member, you may be cheating these students out of funds to help them with college expenses. To date we have presented more than $34,000 in scholarships.

In addition, I truly believe that if you take pride enough in your school and your schoolmates, you will take the time to learn all the details of your reunions and make plans to attend. Then you can say about those who didn't attend when you have your ball, "Hey you don't know what you missed."

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.