Reunion celebrates school’s rich legacy

Published 12:47 am Thursday, August 11, 2011

Although P.S. Jones High School no longer exists, its alumni gather every two years to celebrate what they say was more than just a school.

Those alumni gather this weekend to remember what the school meant to them — a place where education went beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.

P.S. Jones High School alumni William O’Pharrow and Archie Harding said the reunion, held in odd-numbered years, provides the school’s alumni an opportunity to reflect on how the school influenced their lives.

During the memorial service held to remember alumni who have died since the last reunion, a tribute to Bill Ebison, an alumnus who died earlier this month, will be conducted, O’Pharrow said. Ebison helped organize memorial services for past reunions, O’Pharrow noted.

“This year, we are doing something for him,” he said.

The reunion reunites 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.

In an interview two years ago at the reunion, Eltha Booth, an alumna of the school and member of the Beaufort County Board of Education, talked about the importance of the school and its alumni holding the reunions every two years.

“It means that they are keeping the dream alive,” Booth said, noting that many alumni and educators 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.

The reunion begins at 11 a.m. Friday when registration for the event begins. It concludes at 9 a.m. Sunday with breakfast (attendees pay for their meals) at Golden Corral. A black-tie, gala affair runs from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday at the Washington Civic Center, site for all reunion activities. The memorial service begins at 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch. From 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, a casual version of the previous night’s gala takes place. A dance and entertainment are slated from 8:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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