Barbara Wilkerson Donnelly , Joy Rubins Morris, Paula Spencer Kephart,
Rainer Klauss, Bobby Cochran, Collins (CE) Wynn, Eddie Sykes
Staff Photographers: Fred & Lynn Sanders
Contributers: The Members of Lee High School Classes of 64-65-66
If you haven't heard the news yet, I will be doing the DJ duties at our Homecoming Dance. During my college days following Lee, I was a DJ on the local college radio station. In the late 70's I started collecting 45 RPM records to put in a juke box that I bought and the collection grew over the next few years to over 2,000 oldie goldie records. When I moved to Omaha, I started doing DJ work at squadron and church parties and continued that even in England, when I added wedding receptions to my list.
The funny thing was that every time I did a dance, I would think back to the times that I first heard and danced to the music myself, and all of our good times at Carter's, Bradley's, and the armory would come to mind, and I missed you all so much. I always wanted to do one show with and for you, so when the Homecoming Dance idea came up, I pleaded my case and was approved to do the music. Although I don't travel with all the 45's anymore (new technology makes it easier), I still have the same type music and still have the same fun. I hope as many of you that can will be at the dance - I have lots of plans to make it a fun evening even if you don't want to get out on the floor and do the monkey or the dog. Again, request your music and mums and tickets from the links below. Go Generals!
The following article is one of several that have appeared recently in the Huntsville Times focused on Lee High School. I found it interesting and thought that many of you might also. Below is a condensed version of the article that ran earlier this month. It not only explains what a magnet school is, but why they were created and what they were designed to accomplish. This is not being printed to create a controvery or to support or argue against the principle, but only to inform you about the course that Lee took after we graduated.
Lee's Magnet Losing Its Power
School worries that others are duplicating special programs
The Huntsville Times
By CHALLEN STEPHENS
Times Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Lee High School is the last defense of court-ordered desegregation in Huntsville.
Using theater and arts, Lee houses the only magnet program that successfully lures out-of-zone students to racially balance a neighborhood school. But if other schools offer the same theater and dance options, said Principal Harry Smith, the melting pot at Lee could vanish. Smith points to the growing competition in south Huntsville, where most students are white.
Lee's magnet, created in 1986, is split between performing arts and pre-engineering. The arts include vocal music, creative writing, dance, drama, photography, visual arts and theater production. Pre-engineering includes in-depth math, technical writing, and business mentoring.
If Lee is undermined, say some city leaders, the school and much of northeast Huntsville could resegregate.
Huntsville has five neighborhood high schools, each a pillar in its community. Lee is the most racially balanced.
Huntsville High in the center city is growing whiter. About 12 percent of students there are black, down from 22 percent five years ago.
Butler High to the west is going the other direction. Today, 65 percent of Butler students are black, up 10 percentage points in four years.
Grissom in south Huntsville is a predominantly white school and always has been. It has more Asian students than black. Johnson High in northwest Huntsville has been more than 90 percent black for six years.
At Lee, 58 percent of students are black; that's up 8 percentage points in five years. However, Lee is also the only school in Huntsville that is majority black and majority middle-class.
Atkins worries about sustaining that balance.
"The point is that we are supposed to be unique. We are the desegregation program for the whole city," said Atkins. "If you're not getting something unique, why leave your home school?"
Lee's magnet draws talented students from across Huntsville. White students come north. Black students come south and east.
Lee has 224 magnet students this year; 160 came from other schools * 47 from Butler, 47 from Grissom and 43 from Johnson. Only 23 transferred from Huntsville High, where plans for a new school include a new auditorium to showcase the annual musicals.
For a magnet to survive, the system needs one top drama program, said former school board member Ann Fee. She suggested moving the drama teacher from Huntsville High to Lee. Same goes for the dance instructor at Grissom. "Grissom just has everything," she said. "They are the top of the line. That really isn't healthy for the rest of the city."
Garage band magnet?
Johnson High also has a magnet program, which includes lessons in Japanese and Russian. That one never took off. Last year, all 51 magnet students at Johnson were already zoned for the school.
"Kids aren't going to travel long distances for foreign language," said school board President David Blair.
He said Johnson could experiment with a new magnet, maybe attach a small zoo and study life sciences. Or Johnson could focus on business and law, he said.
Any change would require a trip to federal court. Four magnets - two middle-school academies and the high school programs at Lee and Johnson - were created in federal court in the 1980s to desegregate the system after forced busing failed. A magnet must maintain a racial balance similar to the systemwide average, which was 43 percent black last year.
Asked the best example of desegregation in Huntsville, Superintendent Ann Roy Moore quickly named Lee.
"Magnet schools, I think, run their course after awhile," she said. If a program works, other schools copy it. That's what's happening at Lee now.
To stay strong, Blair said, Lee must evolve. He suggested a garage band magnet, maybe a studio recording magnet.
"I just don't buy into taking things away from other schools," he said. Instead of pulling programs from other schools, for the first time the school board gave money to support them. The four magnets split $100,000 last school year.
"Lee's a strong school," he said. "It's got a strong principal there now." Board member James Dawson sees it differently. He blames Principal Smith, who is white, for racial strife. Lee needs a black principal, Dawson said. Last year, Smith replaced James Embry, who is black.
"If there is any school in this city that is sitting on the edge of a race riot, it's Lee," said Dawson.
In recent years, Lee has held center stage in a string of racially charged incidents.
A white teacher resigned after using the N-word in class. A student poem was censored for a line about slapping the white off someone's face. A white student was hospitalized after a fight blamed on racism. A black teacher quit during a public meeting, claiming racism among colleagues. But most of these situations predate Smith. And he talks about a different side of Lee.
"It is more of a relaxed atmosphere," he said. "The kids seem to be more open to each other and each other's ideas. There are relatively few serious discipline problems at Lee."
Others see Lee as a model for tolerance. "It's totally blended," said Oakley, who graduated in May. "Of course there are cliques, but it's by area of interest." It's not by money, not by race, she said.
"It's OK to be anybody at Lee," said Atkins, the magnet supervisor. "It's OK to play football, it's OK to be a cheerleader. But it's also OK to write poetry, act or run a spotlight."
Dick Hiatt, who represented east Huntsville on the City Council, said Lee's magnet is essential to the continuing success of the city. "Lee used to draw from the whole northeastern part of the city," said Hiatt.
"Most people in the northeast are people whose kids are up and gone."
If Lee's magnet doesn't remain competitive, said Hiatt, it will quickly become difficult to draw young families. The property values would fall. That would hurt the tax base for the entire city.
Mostly, he worries about the magnet losing students to the drama program and $3.5 million auditorium being built down the road at the new Huntsville High.
"That's going to be better than the (Von Braun Center's) got," he said. ______________________________________
Patricia Birchfield Hester
Class of '66
This is my first time to visit ..My younger sister has been reading and told me I would enjoy visiting the web site, so I am signing in as requested. Thanks for the work that you all do to keep this so up to date. More after I learn my way around.
Subject: Re: Library idea one more time
Janice Tittsworth Barnett
Class of '65
Knowing there will be money for books this year due to the generosity of Lee's first classes is heartwarming. I will see that bookplates honoring these classes will be placed within each purchased book.
Linda Collinsworth (NO "G") Provost
Class of '66
We (Tom and I) regret that we are going to miss all the homecoming festivities but we are looking forward to reading about the fun times on your great web site.
I thought William Dale Meyer's comment in last week's edition was cute and I just wanted to assure him that he must have me confused with someone else. I would never be caught dead in a Chubby Checker sweatshirt with "let's twist again" on the front.
His memory is probably better than mine, though. It's just hard to believe that there was a time in my life when I would have gone out in public wearing something like that. Take Care.
Gail Brady Ayres
Class of '66
Stumbled on the web-site while looking for info from the Huntsville Times - Great Web-site!
This Week's Mystery Classmate
We just received the above photo from Rod Vandiver who got it in an e-mail and wanted to share it with the rest of you. This Mystery Classmate was called up and is now serving in Kuwait. We don't know for sure, but he may be the only member of '64-'65-'66 that has that distinction. Can you guess who the major is?
by Collins (CE) Wynn
Class of '64
The recent photograph of the old VFW building, or the 'Annex' as I knew it, was wonderful. Like many I have fond memories of the place.
The old two-lane bowling alley was really something. Unlike the glittering bowling palaces of today, the Annex lanes were purely for bowling and had no amenities. I don't know when the building was originally constructed but it had been there long enough for foot traffic to have worn grooves in the wooden floors. The manually operated pin setting machine was a marvelous clanking and clinking contraption. To be chosen to operate the thing was pure pleasure. You had to get down into it not unlike hopping into a pit and pick up all the pins that had just been knocked over. Then you placed them in a rack and lowered them into position on the lane floor by putting all your weight on a cross bar forcing the pin setter down to floor level. Once there it released the pins then reset itself upward as you took your weight off to a height that was just out of the way enough to allow the ball and pins to move without obstruction. Once the pins had been set and the ball placed in the return chute, the kid operator had to quickly jump up onto the side wall and lift up both feet. Otherwise he ran the risk of getting smartly whacked by either the incoming ball or the bounding pins, or both.
Like the bowling alley, the basketball court was a marvel. It was a full size court laid out in a fairly small space. I think both end and side court walls were no more than 3 feet from the court boundary, if that. Of course that led to players banging themselves against the walls on a regular basis especially under the baskets. To me, the gem of the basketball court was the spectators' balcony. I remember it encircling the entire court with about 3 stair-stepped seating rows but I never saw it in use. In my mind's eye, I can imagine teams from Dallas Mill across the way playing games in front of capacity crowds. My own memories are of just a bunch of 12-13 year old knuckle-headed boys playing pick-up games courtesy of the Baptist Church.
I know the exact dates of my some of my fondest memories of the "Annex". They all involved boxing and one of them was September 25th 1962, the day of the first Patterson - Liston heavyweight championship fight. All the boys I knew had no money to speak of so we often had to devise ways of entertaining ourselves. One of those ways was following professional boxing. To me it seems the late '50s and early '60s were the heydays of the sport. We all considered the championship boxers to be true heroes. Names like Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston as well as Archie Moore, Peter Rodemacher, Ingemar Johansson, Eddie Machen and Cassius Clay. Even network TV broadcast the 'fights' on a weekly basis (I think sponsored sometimes by Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer). Anyway, on the early fall evening of the fight six or eight of us gathered on the "Annex" porch near the twilight starting time with a small transistor radio. We had trouble trying to figure out a way we could all hear the little radio when someone had a good idea. We moved out into the yard in the grass, put the radio on its back and we all laid face down in a circle with our heads toward the radio which was in the middle. It worked like a charm. We lay there laughing and joking surrounded by the warmth of friendship and listened as Floyd Patterson was knocked out by Sonny Liston and lost his heavyweight title (he made history by regaining the title in a fight against Liston a little less than a year later). I'm unsure of exactly who was there but I'll list some probabilities Walt Thomas, Mike Smith, Mike Chisum, Sonny Turner, Terry Preston, Jimmy and Bobby Durham and possibly others. "To this day, he is admired for his idyllic sportsmanship , and considered an exemplary role model". How different from today, huh?