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Members of Ralph Bunche Alumni Association show up in great numbers to ask for restoration of aging school
K.G. County Administrator Travis Quesenberry speaks
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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By CATHY DYSON
More than 120 people--most of them members of the Ralph Bunche Alumni Association--packed the King George Board of Supervisors meeting room this week to show support for saving the former school.
"We wanted to show you some new faces, and there are a lot of them here tonight," said Ernestine Jefferson, president of the roughly 300-member alumni group.
After residents took all the seats in the board room Tuesday night, county officials pulled out more chairs. But there were still more than a dozen people standing.
The crowd spilled out into the foyer for the supervisors' meeting, which included discussions on several road projects and lasted more than four hours.
The Ralph Bunche Alumni Association gave a slide show that detailed the history of the school, which was named after a diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner. It educated the county's African-American students from 1949 to 1968.
Claudette Jordon, a 1967 graduate, asked the county to form a new committee and move forward with plans to restore the school. A consultant has suggested it could be turned into a museum or community center.
The school has been used by other county offices since the school closed and the system integrated. In recent years, the building has not been occupied daily, and alumni discovered during a tour in April that time and neglect have taken their toll on the building.
Water has leaked into the building and damaged ceilings and floors, and county departments are using the building as a storage place for old files, broken equipment and seemingly everything else no one wants to throw away.
But as Jordon pointed out, King George isn't the only locality to be in this situation. African-American schools in Westmoreland County and Bel Alton, Md., were renovated recently.
"It can be done," she declared, and members of the audience echoed, "It can be done!"
There were also several choruses of "Amen" during Jordon's presentation, but the meeting really took on the feel of a church service when Supervisors Chairman Cedell Brooks Jr. spoke.
He said how much it meant to see all the people in the audience, and that they all need to work together.