Preserving the legacy|P.S. Jones High School reunion rekindles bonds, memories

Published 12:21 pm Sunday, August 16, 2009

Contributing Editor

When alumni of P.S. Jones High School get together every two years, it’s more than just another reunion.
“It brings old friendships back,” said Washington resident Florence Lodge, a member of the school’s Class of 1954. “It lets us celebrate our heritage. You really enjoy being together, fellowshipping.”
The reunion, which began Friday and concludes today, brings together alumni of Washington Colored High School, which graduated its first class in 1926, and P.S. Jones High School. Washington Colored High School’s named was changed in 1950 to honor Peter Simon Jones, former principal of the school. As the result of integration, the school combined with Washington High School in 1969
“I haven’t seen some of my classmates in 40 years,” Lodge said Saturday as the reunion’s attendees prepared for lunch at the Washington Civic Center. “We come together to see old classmates and some of our old teachers.”
Lodge said alumni come from all over the nation to the reunions, which are held in odd-numbered years.
“We have some from Michigan. We have some from California, too,” Lodge said.
Even people who are not alumni of the school understand its importance to its alumni.
Ed Booth, a Beaufort County commissioner, is not a P.S. Jones graduate, but his wife, Eltha, a member of the Beaufort County Board of Education, is a P.S. Jones graduate. The reunions are special to the school’s alumni and their families he said.
“It means that they are keeping the dream alive,” Booth said, noting that many of them were part of the civil-rights struggle in the 1950s and 1960s. “They shared that struggle and formed some strong bonds. These people show love unconditionally for one another.”
Booth said the school and its educators were an extended family that looked out for the overall welfare of the students.
“It shows it takes a village to raise a child. … Lots of very productive people came out of this school,” Booth said.
This year, as in years past, surviving P.S. Jones graduates took a few moments to remember classmates and alumni who died since the 2007 reunion.
“Each reunion, we add several more names to the list,” Lodge said, noting that the number of P.S. Jones graduates dwindles each year.
That’s why P.S. Jones alumni work hard to preserve the school’s legacy, Lodge said.
The sea of maroon-and-gold reunion T-shirts at the Civic Center provides evidence that work is paying off.