Memories abound at school centennial

by Elsa Verbyla - Posted on Oct 09, 2013 - 01:42 PM

Photo: Michael and Cathy DeWitt walk to the former Peninsula School in Bohannon, site of a centennial celebration on Saturday. Photo by Elsa Verbyla

Michael and Cathy DeWitt walk to the former Peninsula School in Bohannon, site of a centennial celebration on Saturday. Photo by Elsa Verbyla

Photo: Some of the former students who attended Saturday’s centennial celebration for the Peninsula schoolhouse included, first row from left, Lois White, Elizabeth White George, Mary Elizabeth Daniels Ray, Delores Ann Jarvis Demaio, Elizabeth Machen Warren and John Machen; second row, Audrey Mason, Winifred White Thomas, Pete White, Audrey White Wilson, Leon White and Elizabeth Hugate Hudgins. Other former students in attendance were DeWitt Edwards, Milton Hugate, Turner Davis and Stanley Hobday. Below, Elizabeth White George and Pete White share some memories during the conversation. Photo by Elsa Verbyla

Some of the former students who attended Saturday’s centennial celebration for the Peninsula schoolhouse included, first row from left, Lois White, Elizabeth White George, Mary Elizabeth Daniels Ray, Delores Ann Jarvis Demaio, Elizabeth Machen Warren and John Machen; second row, Audrey Mason, Winifred White Thomas, Pete White, Audrey White Wilson, Leon White and Elizabeth Hugate Hudgins. Other former students in attendance were DeWitt Edwards, Milton Hugate, Turner Davis and Stanley Hobday. Below, Elizabeth White George and Pete White share some memories during the conversation. Photo by Elsa Verbyla

The bell rang, emcee Glen Morgan said, "Good morning boys and girls," the group laughed, and a nostalgic centenary celebration for the one-time Peninsula High School got underway.

Set amidst some trappings of an old-time school day (lunchtime and Pledge of Allegiance) a group of nearly 60 people—some former students, some children and grandchildren of students, and quite a few other interested people—gathered at the former schoolhouse in Bohannon on Saturday to celebrate its survival for 100 years. They seemed to enjoy their history lesson very much.

Peninsula High School opened its doors to the white students of West Mathews, the peninsula between the East and North rivers, in October of 1913. At one time children entered the first grade and left with high school diplomas. Consolidation of public schools whittled away at the offerings. First the upper high school grades were gone, then middle years, and by the time Peninsula School closed in 1946, it taught grades one through four only, according to a history presented by Gordon Keith.

The two-story wooden schoolhouse survived because the Mobjack Lodge of Odd Fellows used it for many years as a meeting place, then the West Mathews Community League, formed in 1987, took ownership in 1989 and began the long process of preserving and improving the property. Relics from all three of the building’s roles were on display Saturday.