I’m back after a long summer vacation. I’ve rolled up my sleeves writing about a recent class reunion of the George Washington Carver High School alumni. The theme was “Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, Embracing the Future.”
Almost 70 students reconnected with their school days and personal accomplishments since graduating in the 1960s prior to Bunnell’s desegregation. George Washington Carver High School was erected in 1949 for the Black community, but only the gym remains following renovation.
Forecasts of a developing Palm Coast were not on the horizon. Perhaps even today, naysayers have avowed, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?. John 1:46 NIV.
The reunion dispelled the myth, warranting many good things coming out of Bunnell. The small town spirit of caring, sharing and love nurtured the seed, attributing to who the students are today. School principals Mabel Robinson and Leroy Hunter and teacher/coach the Rev. Dr. Preston W. Marshall, Jr. played pivotal roles in how the students turned out.
The reunion began with a “meet and greet” and accommodations at the gym; the second day was a cookout on the 11-acre parcel. A banquet filled the main event at Palm Coast’s Hilton Garden Inn. A church service was next at St. James Missionary Baptist Church with a luncheon at the African American Cultural Society.
Mingling, bringing everyone up to date, revealed that the Rev. Dr. Denise Laster Johnson, the mistress of ceremonies, paved the way as one of the first civilian Army women, appointed to Deputy Community Commander in Heidelberg, Germany, for a population of 6,000 soldiers, family members and civilians.
She is founder of Tabernacle of Peace Church, earning a doctorate degree in Theology/Christian Education from the University of the District of Columbia and an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Faith Deliverance International College of Fort Washington, Md., where she serves on the board of trustees.
First off, keynote speaker Rozell Williams Swain honors her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. She attended Florida Community College at Jacksonville (FCCJ) and made successful moves in nursing at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Swain focused as treasurer and president of her Homeowners Association and on the association’s board of directors.
Reunion chairman Dr. Clara Shellman Walters has rightful claim as a self-employed educational consultant, coaching principals, assistant principals and deans. The former language arts teacher has made a difference as senior director of student services for the Orange County Public Schools and a principal at Oak Ridge, West Orange, and Jones High Schools. Walters occasionally serves as commencement speaker for Flagler Palm Coast High School. She holds a doctorate degree from Nova University.
Other notable attendees
Apostle Mathes Williams, senior pastor of First Macedonia Baptist Church in Atlanta, is the visionary trendsetter for establishing the reunion. Notably, Williams’ dad, Mathes Lee Williams, was the first African-American police officer in Flagler County.
Other successful classmates attended and participated in the attraction of what the area had to offer. Success was a common thread for former the Rev. Daisy Mae Henry, a Bunnell commissioner, and former Commissioner Annie Louise Johnson.
Remembering Elsie Chappell
Educator Elsie Chappell sorrowfully passed away last Saturday. Chappell, a product of George Washington Carver High School, earned a master’s degree from Florida A&M University, returning to teach all disciplines at the Carver School, and ultimately shuttling to Palm Coast as a math teacher at Buddy Taylor Middle School.
Chappell was district treasurer of the Flagler County Democratic Women’s Club, treasurer of the Flagler County NAACP and a volunteer with the Flagler County Council on Aging.
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.