By Erica Benjamin for the SNAP
Sunday, July 21, 2013 —
Former students of Kingville School recently carried on an annual tradition with a reunion at their alma mater.
On Feb. 19, 1979, the late Nona M. Thomas Colson founded the Kingville Alumni Association as a way for alumni to keep in touch. Nearly 35 years later, the association is going strong with more than 100 members spread out across the country.
Brenda Stanback, current president of the Kingville Alumni Association, shared a little of the history of Kingville School and the students who walked its halls.
The community of Kingville, which was in the southern section of Albemarle, was named for New York physician Dr. Ogden D. King Sr., who practiced medicine in the city from 1887 until 1908.
King’s support of the black community, which included the building of a church and the selling of land at a nominal fee, resulted in the residents electing to name their community in his honor in 1898.
In 1948, Kingville School became a part of the Albemarle City school system. The academic curriculum during this time was limited, with the focus being on vocational training for adults. After the opening of a new high school building seven years later, black students from all over the county, with the exception of Badin, were being sent to Kingville School.
Under the direction of E.E. Waddell as principal and a staff of 20 faculty, half of whom had master’s degrees, the students at Kingville flourished.
“Mr. Waddell didn’t play. You came to his school to learn,” Stanback said, also praising the teachers for taking an interest in the lives of their students.
“The teachers were really involved. They even made home visits.”
Today, there is some controversy with elementary-age children attending class in the same building as their older counterparts. However, the campus of Kingville School had students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and according to Stanback, there were some benefits.
“We never had any problems. The older kids looked out for us,” she said.
One honor for the elementary children was to sell frozen treats to the older students.
“We would sit on the patio and sell popsicles from Cabarrus Creamery to the upperclassmen,” she said.
Things changed for the students at Kingville School in 1967, the year integration in the school system took place.
“It divided my last class up. We would’ve been the largest graduating class in our school history,” she said, adding that this is one of the reasons the alumni association was formed.
“There was so much school spirit when we went to school. It was our senior year and we still had that bond.”
During the early years of the Kingville Alumni Association, as students graduated and moved to other states, chapters were formed throughout the country, each with its own president. These chapters comprised a national chapter, of which Stanback was the second president.
“We didn’t just do things for ourselves, we are community oriented,” she said, noting that each chapter would award a scholarship to an individual in their community. The chapters would also donate yearly to award a national scholarship.
The Kingville Alumni Association is open to anyone who ever attended King-ville School, no matter which grade they were in during the time of its closing. The association currently only has one chapter, with members meeting monthly on the fourth Sunday. On alternating years, the alumni host a reunion which typically involves a trip.
“We’ve taken cruises and chartered dinner boats. Whatever we want to do, we do,” Stanback said.
“Last year we had our big reunion. We’re planning on going to the Essence Festival in New Orleans next year.”
A picnic is planned on the years that the alumni don’t take a major trip. The recent indoor picnic at the E.E. Waddell Center included games of cards, cornhole, bingo and checkers.
“Two years ago we had a Three-Point Shootout and a basketball game,” Stanback said.
Perhaps the most enjoyable experiences to be had during the annual reunion is the sharing of stories.
“Everyone has their own memories of Kingville,” Stanback said.
“I was fortunate to have lived during that time and was able to experience the love we got in the school.”
Erica Benjamin is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.