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Students walk down memory lane

Hallways and classrooms hold a lot of memories and on Saturday former students from one Houston County school got to take a look into the past before their beloved school closes down.

Come next school year, Perry Primary School will be empty. Built in 1955, it was first known as the Houston Training School and was for African Americans.

Larry Holmes says students fought to change that name. "I think that was done intentionally. You didn't have no white schools that used the word training," he said. "They wanted to make it seem like we was just like animals where they were training us."

It eventually changed to Houston High School. Several students, including Oralene Lawson Billings, spoke fondly about former Principal James Hightower. "If you done something wrong he maybe had a paddle waiting on you. And he would bring you in away from everyone else and do what need to be done, and when you leave there you went out there straight." she said. "But it was a good thing, it was more of a bark than a bite."

Discipline wasn't the only memory students had, Thomas Scott met the love of his life there. "We went on to get married in 1974 and this October the 25th we'll be married 40 years," he said.

Carl Lumpkin played on the school's football team. "We went to the state championship and won in 1969," said Lumpkin.

After checking out their classrooms, students saw their former math teacher Edward Dyson and immediately embraced him.
Dyson taught at the school on and off from 1964 to 1970.

"We used to have Friday night sock hops that was the biggest social thing to happen down here in Perry. We had a dance on Friday night, and I was always the chaperon," said Dyson.

Dyson pointed out his favorite student Jo Ann Copeland.
After high school Copeland says was thinking about going into the military, but Dyson changed that and helped her get into Fort Valley State University.

In 1970 schools integrated, that's when Brenda Long attended ninth grade there. "I have been a student here, I have been a substitute teacher here," said Long. "And my mother was also a teacher here. I was a part of the class, the freshman class, that came from Perry High School here in the beginning of 1970."

Students say the school will forever hold a special place in their heart.

Principal Elgin Mayfield organized the event because he says often times during the summer former students wanted to tour the building and he wanted to give people a chance to say goodbye.

A little more on it's history, from 1969 to 1971 it was Houston Junior High. It closed for two years and later reopened as Perry Middle School from 1975 until 1999. Shortly after it became Perry Primary.

The new school has been built off Langston Road in Perry. No word on what will happen to the current building.


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