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Staying True to JP Carr School

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Masters of Ceremony - Carl Folds and Cleveland Stroud
Invocation - Minister Mae Gladys McCollum-Rakestraw
Greetings - Eloise Flanigan-Shepherd
Class of 1961 and Candle Lighting - Nancy Brewer-Franklin
Walk Down Memory Lane - Grover Simmons (for 1945-1950), Walter Collins (1951-1955), Christine Height-Clark (1956-1960), Bobbie Jean Lamar-Gary (1961-1963), Thomas Peters (1966-1969)
Historical Reflections - Cleveland Stroud and Carl Folds
Class Recognitions
School Song
- Gloria Grier-Armstead and Dr. Aubrey Webb
Blessing of Food - Julius Sawyer


Alumni, family and friends of the graduating classes from 1949-1969 of the JP Carr School and the preceeding Bryant Street School gathered together Saturday at Under the Stars in Oxford to reunite, remember, and honor the educators, classmates and school that shaped their lives.

The theme of the reunion, "Keeping in Touch... It's the Right Thing to Do," was chosen because of the loyalty and love students have for their school, said Eloise Flanigan Shepherd. "Let's feel proud of our educational roots," she said.

A candle was lit in memory of classmates who had passed away.

Speakers Grover Simmons, Walter Collins, Christine Height-Clark, Bobbie Jean Lamar-Gary, and Thomas Peters recalled memories of the schools and of the educators that changed their lives.

Simmons, who graduated in 1949, described how the Bryant Street School had no running water, heat, or bathrooms. In order to get water, students had to go to the next door neighbor to draw from their well.

"But we had great teachers. That's what made Bryant Street School so wonderful," he said. Simmons found himself well prepared for college-level work when he started at Morris Brown.

"They were like second parents," agreed Peters.

Several speakers described Principal W.D. Tolbert, who headed the school from 1948-1951, as a "man ahead of his time."

"He turned the education system in Rockdale County around," said Walter Collins. Tolbert started a black history class, a class to teach students about the fundamentals of finance, and more importantly, hired college-eduacated male teachers, such as James Hardwick and Samuel Lester.

A few numbers were quoted to paint a picture of the times. In 1961, gas was 25 cents a gallon, a six-pack of Coca cola was 25 cents, and a postage stamp was 5 cents, said Lamar-Grey. Stroud also described a report from 1954 where the county spent $27,299 on education for white students and $946 on education for black students. 

 Coach and city Councilman Cleveland Stroud, who recently turned 75, was presented with a surprise recognition from the Georgia Legislature by state Sen. Ronald Ramsey, who described him as having the "heart of a teacher." Among Stroud's achievements listed were 1988 Rockdale County Teacher of the Year, being the first African American on the Conyers city council, being the first African American Athletic Director and department head in Rockdale County, being named a regional and state coach eight times.

"I can't get to where I am on my own," said Stroud. "My family did a lot of sacrificing for me." 

The Henderson family also received a plaque for their late father William Henderson, the first PTA president of the Bryant Street/JP Carr School, recognizing his work in education. The Henderson family continues to grant an annual scholarship in his name.