The pride and joy of communities

Published 4:37 pm Monday, May 27, 2019

I was fortunate to attend my wife Tracey’s class reunion weeks ago. Like all class reunions they had invited former teachers who have now retired from education but to a teacher, they agreed that Chocowinity High School was the best place they ever taught. This gave me food for thought, so please follow patiently with me the next few paragraphs.

Early in my professional career (teacher and coach), I agreed with the philosophy that “bigger was better” in our school system. As I have gotten older, I do not agree with this philosophy and apologize for doing so. Phillip Lee told me that it might be cheaper but not better, and I agree with his statement.

Small schools like Pantego, Belhaven, Chocowinity, Bath, Aurora, Bear Grass and Jamesville high schools were the heartbeat of their communities! It was the pride of the town and one common cause to rally around.

Gone are the days of Jack Wallace, Linville Midgette, Clyde Harding, Jim Kinion, Jimmy Brown, Jimmy Tyre, Nolan and Ray Repass, Rosie Thompson and Rodney Gaylord, just to mention a few heroes who have brought recognition to these areas. Gyms were packed and baseball fields had standing-room-only crowds. Work at the schools was done by local workers, and they were expertly finished. The community rallied to be of help when something needed to be done. They took pride in their finished product!

Students got a quality education. Many have become doctors, lawyers, judges and educators hoping to give back to their communities. Values were not taught at school but at home, and parents only expected these values to be carried over at school. Everyone knew each other and most were related.

Looking back at my youth, men like Jack Wallace, Linville Midgette, Clyde Harding, Jim Kinnion and Nolan Respass were my heroes and later mentors to me. Their teams won with humility and accepted defeat with class. Thank you all for your leadership and the influence you had on so many.

So, for me, if you’re talking about consolidating schools: leave the schools alone. We have already stolen some pride and joys — please do not rip their hearts out again. Thank you, Chocowinity High School for preparing my wife, and all who attended the reunion and others, for life. They have remained friends through the years and have many fond memories that will never be taken away. So, for me, I regret these small communities no longer have their heat beat of a school.

That is why they were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places — Washington!


— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.