Graduates of Oak Lawn School and Turner High School, Waxahachie’s two black schools prior to integration, are invited to attend the biennial reunion this weekend to rekindle old friendships and remember alumni who died during the past two years.
Minnie Dyer, Turner High class of 1961, said the reunions offer an important opportunity to renew memories and friendships of years gone by.
“It’s a way to reconnect to the past and to classmates, friends, teachers and the community from when you were a child and when you were in school,” she said. “I thank my teachers from Oak Lawn and Turner for allowing me to dream and helping me.”
Erma Faye Newton, a 1947 graduate of Oak Lawn, said she anticipates a large attendance.
“People enjoy coming back, just coming back and bringing back old memories and getting reacquainted,” she said. “We’re expecting a large turnout here for the memorial service and the unveiling of the memorial statue.”
The Freedman Memorial, a large granite marker honoring members of the freedman’s community, will be unveiled in a ceremony around noon at the end of the reunion parade on Saturday at Freedman Memorial Plaza, weather permitting.
“I think everybody will be delighted, because it is beautiful,” Newton said of the marker.
Dyer said the names on the memorial bring back many memories, from the hospital where her youngest brother was born to the barbershops and grocery stores her family frequented.
“Some of the people who are being honored I do remember them, and I realize the impact they had not only on my life but on others’ lives,” she said.
Recent heavy rains in the area have delayed the installation of the memorial, and City Councilman Chuck Beatty said the unveiling may be moved to a later date if necessary.
Beatty will also present a proclamation honoring the Oak Lawn and Turner High reunions as part of the weekend events.
The reunion will begin at 5 p.m. Friday with registration and get re-acquainted activities at meeting rooms A and B of the Waxahachie Civic Center.
Registration pick-up will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Oak Lawn, to be followed by memorial services at 10. The parade will begin immediately after the memorial service, traveling from Wyatt Street to Main Street to Hill, followed by Jefferson Street and Getzendaner Street to Oak Lawn. The Freedman Memorial unveiling will be at Freedman Memorial Plaza after the parade ends.
At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, there will be a catered dinner, program and dance in ballroom five of the Civic Center.
The reunion weekend wraps up with music and catered food at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Crape Myrtle Room of the Civic Center, immediately followed by a business meeting at 5:30.
According to the Ellis County Museum Web site, Oak Lawn School was built on North Aiken Street in 1887 and was moved to Wyatt Street in 1893. Expansion of the student body led to the separation of elementary and high school students, and Turner High School opened in 1952. In 1970, Oak Lawn was closed upon the completion of integration in the Waxahachie school system, and Turner High School is now Turner Middle School.