Teachers and students enjoyed Banneker School reunion in Catonsville

Letter to the editor

November 13, 2011

The Banneker School Legacy Committee of Catonsville, known as the Banneker Reunion Committee of Catonsville, enjoyed a three-day weekend Sept. 23-25 with students, who attended or graduated from Banneker.

Our vision is to empower and preserve our community.

Our mission is to locate and preserve historical African-American landmarks, recognizing those who contributed to maintaining the legacy of Catonsville history.

Our theme is "Preserving the past to ensure the future."

This committee has been together for nearly two years. As a wonderful beginning, we contacted many alumni, from all over the world.

Our souvenir booklet has historical facts that will last forever.

Banneker was the only African-American school in this area and drew students from Arbutus, Halethorpe, Granite,Oella, Relay and Randallstown.

Our weekend began on Friday with a get acquainted social.

The processional included former teachers and graduates.

Our speakers were Del. Adrienne Jones and Leslie Lopez Ruffin, from Rising Sun Baptist Church, who represented Del. Emmett Burns.

There were displays from historian Louis Diggs' collection.

Lucille Smith directed the music, along with DJ Scratch.

John Taylor, former teacher showed his other talent by dancing with former student Phyllis King.

Saturday began with a continental breakfast, team games, cookout and "Kinderman" presentation, then socializing.

Our speaker was David Greene, Class of 1954, who is a great educator.

Patsy Henderson McDougal gave the history of Banneker.

April Richardson Pryor read Maya Angelo's poem "Still I Rise" with passion.

Children demonstrated the traditional wrapping of the Maypole. Those dancers were Alyssa King, Caitlin King, John King, Na'ima Palmer, Jasmine Lewis, Anaya Pope, Erica Pope and Adanya Hicks.

The evening ball was a tribute to the music department of Banneker School, which educated Weldon Ervine and Elvira Gosnell.

The following alumni were present for this historic gathering: Eva Brooks (oldest living teacher), Shirley Thomas, Edmonia Yates (wife of former physical education teacher), John Cunningham, Irving Green (teacher) and wife, Dorothy, and John "Kinderman" Taylor.

From the 1930s, we had Nesbet Parker and William Foreman.

Rita Coe Crooms was the Class of 1943's only living student; Harriett Randall Dunlap was the only one living from the Class of 1944.

During the reunion, we recognized the first and last graduating classes at Banneker.

Emcees for the evening were Phyllis King and Norwood Coates.

Our photographer and videographers were Rodney Maybin and Brandon Maybin.

The food was prepared by John King, assisted by Nicole King, Denise King and Phyllis Wonsom.

Arlette Stewart and Linda Beal prepared our beautiful souvenirs.

All of us saluted our teachers for giving us a lifetime worth of rich skills that we continue using, wherever we go.

On Sunday, we attended the Grace A.M.E. Church service. Grace A.M.E. Church formerly hosted baccalaureate services for Banneker, Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, Full Gospel Tabernacle and Morning Star Baptist Church.

After the service, we returned to the Banneker Recreation Center where our speaker, another Banneker student, was Ambassador Brenda Brown Schoonover. She served in the Peace Corps and was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Committee members include Phyllis King, president/secretary; Dorothy Smith Skyles, vice president; Anita Maybin, treasurer; Gloria Sewell, correspondence; Evelyn White, technical corresponding secretary; Patsy McDougald, activity; Vivian Parham, sergeant-at-arms/history and Harriett Dunlap, history.

Also, Norwood Coates, Internet; Sheila Williams, Internet; Larry Smith, Benjamin Sewell, Edgar Webb and Shirley Diggs.

Louis Diggs, historian; Dennis Whittaker; Barbara Chase; Rodney Maybin; Brandon Maybin; Harriet Hines and April Pryor.


Phyllis King


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