Reunion events set this weekend

Published 8:34 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The long-awaited Jordan School reunion finally will be here on Friday, and events still are open for late registrations, organizers say.

The school, formerly located at the corner of Tynes Street and Johnson Avenue, served blacks in Suffolk and Nansemond County for 90 years, beginning in 1894. Joseph Fletcher Jordan, a Unitarian Universalist minister, ran the school for about 20 years, and lent his name to the institution.

After Jordan died in 1925, his daughter, Annie B. Willis, took over the day-to-day operations of the school. The school served about 300 students at its peak. After schools integrated in the 20th century and many blacks began attending public schools, the Jordan School became a part of the STOP Organization.

“We intend for this to be a celebration not just for those who attended the school, but a salute to Negro education in Suffolk,” said Katrina Watford Gamble, a descendant of Jordan and a 1960 graduate of the school.

The reunion will begin Friday evening with a meet-and-greet at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Suffolk from 6 p.m. to midnight. The event will include several book signings by graduates of the school who have authored books.

On Saturday, a cookout will be held at the former school site, 179 Tynes St. The cookout will include on-site health screenings.

On Saturday night, a banquet will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn with awards, recognition of alumni who have died, and a guest speaker. The speaker, Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, attended the Jordan kindergarten and went on to become the first black valedictorian at Suffolk High School. She received her Ph.D. degree from Emory University and became a prominent scholar of Langston Hughes.

On Sunday, the reunion attendees will worship at the Norfolk Unitarian Universalist Church, 739 Yarmouth St. Joseph Fletcher Jordan was a Unitarian Universalist minister.

Gamble expects about 150 people to attend the events. There is no cost to attend the church service. For all other events, the organizers will accept a limited number of people who were not able to pay in advance. Proceeds from the reunion will go toward scholarships for students.

For more information about the reunion, e-mail jordanschoolreunion@yahoo.com or visit www.jordanschoolreunion.com.