Wait has been long enough

Published 8:27 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For nearly 20 years, the Nansemond County Training School alumni have dreamed of turning their former school — which sits beside Southwestern Elementary School and is used by the school division for storage — into a museum.

As the first public high school in Nansemond County for blacks, it would be a fitting place to preserve for future generations memories of the harsh reality of segregated education, the “separate but equal” system that was anything but equal — that accomplished only making the races more and more unequal in terms of the quality of educational resources they were provided by the state.

But like the alumni of East Suffolk High School, which recently was approved for a historical marker, the 784 graduates of Nansemond County Training School and its successor, Southwestern High School, look back on their education with fond memories, talking only about what good times they had and how the teachers and principals genuinely cared about the students and strove to give them the best education possible despite the limited resources.

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But plans to turn the building into a museum and community center for the continuing education of local residents have been on hold since their inception. For two long decades, the school division has talked about finding a replacement school for the aging Southwestern building, which shares a parking lot with the Nansemond County Training School. Alumni knew their plans would have to wait until the school division vacated the property.

They likely never anticipated the wait would be more than two decades. But now that the school division has purchased a property for the replacement school, alumni can see their finished project on the horizon.

Only one more real obstacle remains — money. The group will be beginning fundraising shortly to gather funds, and it would serve the entire community well for them to be able to complete the project quickly. Any fundraiser they conduct is worthy of the community’s support.