New historical marker unveiled at CCTS

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some laughed, some cried, and everybody sang yesterday during an unveiling ceremony for a new marker designating the Chilton County Training School as an official historic site.

The school, which received its designation from the Alabama Historical Commission last year, was the only facility in Chilton County for black students from 1924-1969.

In attendance yesterday were former CCTS students and teachers, as well as members of the school’s reunion committee and Alumni Preservation Association.

“We come here today in the spirit of the ancestors,” said Association chaplain Bill Wilson, sharing a memory about Mary E. Preyer, who worked as county supervisor over the school.

“If you sent her to get change for a quarter, she would bring back 45 cents,” Wilson joked. “That’s what the spirit of Chilton County Training School is all about.”

Alumni who have gone on to become elected officials were recognized, including County Commissioner Bobby Agee, Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed and Jemison City Council member Sam Reed.

Agee is the current chairman of the Association.

“We can’t say enough about Commissioner Agee,” Eddie Reed said. “He has put a lot on the line for this program.”

Dr. James V. Wright, CCTS Class of 1968, was the keynote speaker who stood in the gap for R. Beasley, the school’s last and only living principal. Beasley had nearly 40 years in education across the state, serving as principal of CCTS from 1966-69.

“Many of us not only graduated from here, but we also found our beloved ones (spouses) here,” Wright said.

Former teachers Herman Washington and Dorothy Sawyer were among those present, and also were recognized before the crowd.

Agee said he was impressed with the estimated attendance between 125 and 150 people.

“We are going to continue to work to preserve the history that is this high school,” said Joan McNealy, 1966 graduate who lives in Michigan.

Yesterday’s event coincided with a CCTS reunion being held this weekend in Montgomery. The reunion culminates this morning with a prayer breakfast at Embassy Suites.