Down Central’s Corridors draws large crowd

Published 12:45 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A little less than 50 years ago at Central High School (CHS) in Lunenburg County, sports teams walked through the halls wearing purple and gold letterman jackets as many of the students worked to overcome racial prejudice during integration.

Cellphones had not been invented, and a new wing of the school hadn’t even been thought about yet.

The general consensus among the alumni and current students who attended CHS’ 50th anniversary celebration Saturday was that while things have changed, much remains the same.

The celebration, called Down Central’s Corridors, took place from noon-4 p.m. Saturday.

The event, organized by the Class of 2017 President Jonathan Clarke as his senior project, displayed memorabilia from the late 1960s to the present day in the school’s gymnasium, including framed photos, uniforms and news clippings with descriptions of

the item’s time period and who donated the items.

Students offered guided tours throughout the school building, answering questions about the school’s history and past.

Among those who participated was Sandra Jones, who was in the class of 1972. Jones described the difficult and often challenging circumstances of being one of the first few African American students to integrate into Central High School.

Jones noted an instructor, Virginia Tisdale, who offered support and understanding through Jones’ high school years.

Jones, a member of the Victoria Town Council, said the event offered her a way to look back through the school’s history and reflect on how the Lunenburg community has progressed.

“It is always good to look back and see how far the town has grown,” Jones said.

She also commended the event’s organizers.

“The event is very nice,” Jones said. “It looked like a lot of hard work went into it.”

Several people spoke during the event spoke, including Division Superintendent Charles Berkley, who graduated from Central High School in 1975.

Berkley described interacting with alumni through the decades, and being glad of having the chance to reconnect with others and share memories, recent and long ago, with CHS students.

“No matter what career you choose or whatever path you choose in life, just remember, after 50 years, once a Charger, always a Charger.”

Another speaker was David Arthur, who was a member of the school’s first-ever graduating class in 1967.

Arthur, with other alumni, helped establish a scholarship for CHS students.

Clarke, in his address, described the interesting and often surprising process of collecting the memorabilia in bringing the 50th anniversary celebration together.

One surprising revelation, he said, was contacting CHS’ first class president.

Clarke, the current class president, found out that the first class president, Al Vaughan, had not only lived in the same home that Clarke occupies, but ad also slept in the same room.

Clarke said the experience of organizing the event, which had been inspired by a goal of Clarke’s to establish a History Club in the school, had been rewarding.

He told the crowd he hopes it will inspire continued efforts to keep the history of the school alive.

“Looking around at these tables and walls — you have 50 years of such wonderful history,” Clarke said. “And I hope that this is the beginning of something that will take shape over the years to preserve the core of Central, not just at 50, but at 60, 75 years (and) 100.”

Clarke, Berkley and CHS Principal John Long also cut an anniversary cake and refreshments were served during the event.

Clarke said after the event that so many donations of memorabilia came in that organizers ran out of frames and mannequins to display the photos and outfits, which he considered a good problem to have.

Clarke said his decision to attend the University of Mary Washington in the fall to study historic preservation had been in large part due to organizing this celebration.

“If I could do this the rest of my life, I would be happy,” Clarke said.

Pictured are, from left, Kayla Chaffin, Brittany Tomlinson, Emma Hart, Riley Jones, Miranda Franklin, Bobbi Joe Carwile, Gabrielle Aubel and Caitlin Bailey. The mixture of sophomore, junior and senior students at Central High School offered tours and volunteered during Central High School’s 50th anniversary.

Photos by Emily Hollingsworth
Framed photos of students and athletes were among the numerous memorabilia on display Saturday during Down aCentral’s Corridors.