Durham school to host 50-year reunion

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By Calen McKinney


It's been 50 years since the school closed. And this year, its former students and their families are going to celebrate the school's legacy in style.

The annual Durham High School Reunion will get under way tomorrow. There are three days of events planned for the reunion that marks 50 years since the school closed in 1963.

Yevette Haskins, one of several organizers, said planning the reunion begins as many as eight months to a year before the events. This year's committee, she said, has been especially helpful in ensuring all plans come together.

And this year's reunion features something special - the opening of a time capsule the Class of 1962 buried 50 years ago.

Durham school's last class, the Class of 1963, Haskins said, was made up of 11 students, of which six are still living. Haskins was the class valedictorian.

She said the former students' loyalty to their school has kept the reunion going over the years. She expects between 300 and 400 people to attend from all over the Unites States. At past reunions, people have come from Georgia, California, the Virgin Islands and many other states.

"And the older we get, the more we appreciate what we had at the school."

The reunion is open to anyone who has a connection to Durham High School. Haskins said many Durham students are now deceased, so the reunion is a way for their descendants to learn about their family members and help keep their spirit alive.

Haskins said many Durham students have gone on to be very successful, with several having worked as attorneys, doctors and teachers.

She said those who attended Durham High School weren't given much, and often received hand-me-down items from other schools, but they did the best they could with what they had.

"A lot of good people did well coming out of that school," she said. "And we're proud of it."

Haskins said the reunion is always a good time to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

"Most of it is to see old friends," she said. "And to remember and talk about the things we did at Durham. And keep the legacy alive.

"Everything we do is just going to be fun."

Haskins said the reunion committee encourages those attending the events this year to bring scrapbooks and school photos with them.

She said booths from old restaurants where Durham students went to socialize will be on display, along with other memorabilia.

Though this year's reunion will be fun, Haskins said, it will also be sad. Donald Smith, a Durham High School alum who had the idea to begin the school's reunions in 1979, died last August. This will be the first he hasn't attended.

This year's events begin tomorrow with a food court opening at noon near Baptist Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

There will be music continuing through the evening, Haskins said, and former classmates and their families can gather to see each other and talk.

During the day tomorrow, Durham reunion organizers will sell lunches for $8 to raise money for the reunion. The lunch includes a ribeye sandwich, chips, dessert and drink. Orders should be placed by today to be delivered tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. To place an order, call Sharon Hoskins-Sanders at 849-4709 or Lavada Gaddie at 403-1848.

On Friday night, Haskins said, there will be music and more refreshments sold.

Events continue Saturday morning with the reunion's first-ever two-mile run/walk, organized by Durham alumni Wallace Williams, who was an Olympic marathon runner during the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

The race will begin in front of the former Durham School, now Campbellsville Elementary School, and end on the school's track. Awards will be given to the top male and female finishers.

Events will continue with booths set up at CES at around noon. Booth space is $10 and those renting the space are responsible for set up.

There will be activities throughout the day, Haskins said, from an inflatable area for children to music, games and more for adults. Those attending can bring tents, chairs, blankets, grills and other picnic items.

At 2 p.m., there will be a business meeting that Haskins said is very important for all at the reunion to attend.

At 3 p.m., the corn hole tournament will begin for adults age 18 and older. Entry fee is $10 per team. A split pot prize will be given to the winner.

The time capsule will be opened at 6 p.m., Haskins said.

She said organizers don't know what all is buried in the capsule, but that there are letters written by the members of the 1962 class.

At 7 p.m., the annual fashion extravaganza will begin. The event is coordinated by former New York runway model Janet Johnson Vasquez and Veronica Duka Cort, who was a Miss America Top 10 finisher.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. School-age children will be $3.

Events continue on Sunday with a memorial service at First Baptist Church at 4 p.m. The Rev. John C. Lee, pastor of Greater Liberty Baptist Church in Lexington, will be the speaker. The Durham Reunion Choir will provide music.

The choir will rehearse at 5 p.m. Friday and again at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the church.

The reunion will wrap up Sunday night with the Golden Gala Dinner and Dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at All Occasions.

Those attending should wear their "dress for success" gold attire. Tickets are $15 and a photographer will take photos of the event.

Haskins said she and her fellow reunion organizers are thankful for the support they have received from city and county officials and from the Campbellsville School System.

For more information about the reunion, call Haskins at 465-0011 or visit www.virginislandspace.org/durhamreunion.htm.


If You Go


The annual Durham High School Reunion will begin tomorrow at the former Durham campus, now Campbellsville Elementary School. A schedule of events follows.



Noon - Food court near Baptist Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Evening - Music and food in the Baptist Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard area.

5 p.m. - Durham Reunion Choir rehearsal at First Baptist Church.



8 a.m. - Two-mile run/walk beginning at Campbellsville Elementary School.

10 a.m. - Durham Reunion Choir rehearsal at First Baptist Church.

Noon - Booths set up on CES campus.

2 p.m. - Business meeting at CES.

3 p.m. - Corn hole tournament.

6 p.m. - Time capsule opening ceremony.

7 p.m. - Fashion extravaganza.



4 p.m. - Memorial service at First Baptist Church.

9 p.m. - Golden Gala Dinner and Dance at All Occasions.