05/25/08 — Central alumni let the good times roll

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Central alumni let the good times roll

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 25, 2008 2:00 AM

About 500 members of the Central Alumni and Friends celebrated their 36th annual Homecoming this weekend.

About 155 people attended the kickoff banquet Friday night in the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Officers' Club. The guest speaker was Eldress Mildred McLaurin Ross of LaGrange, a member of the Central High School Class of 1968.

On Saturday morning, the Homecoming Committee met for breakfast at Madison's Prime Rib. The group of about a dozen had representatives from several graduating classes -- most from out of town. They all watched the sky for signs of the rain stopping in time for a parade that was scheduled for noon around the corner in the parking lot at Eastern Wayne Middle School, which was the original Central High School.

Central Alumni and Friends President Paul Battle said about 38 percent of the 500 alumni in town this weekend came from out of town.

"A lot of them stayed close to home. And a lot who have been gone are coming back," he said.

During the meeting Saturday morning, Battle led a nuts and bolts session addressing future plans like starting up a Web site and building a community center in the Central Heights community.

Battle, who graduated with the Class of 1965, said he will manage the Web site, which will have plenty of information to help members with travel arrangements.

"I'm hoping it will be up and running by the end of June," Battle told the group.

Building Fund Chairman Milas Kelly said that, although they don't know yet how much the project is going to cost, he has already received $18,000 worth of pledges toward building the community center.

He said he hopes the building will be built and ready to use in the next few years.

"By this time next year, we hope to have a design and cost and a picture of what the building will look like," Kelly said. "And the following year, we hope to begin working toward that goal."

Kelly, who graduated with the Class of 1975, said he envisions a large center where the alumni can meet each year and monthly, too. The center would have programs for senior citizens, day care, after school activities recreation facilities. He said it will be a community center for everybody no matter what their age or walk of life might be.

"The goal is to have it in the Central Heights community where we all went to school," Kelly said.

He said the last class to graduate from Central High was the Class of 1969. After integration in 1970, the freshmen and sophomores stayed at the same building, which was then called Eastern Wayne Junior High School and later Eastern Wayne Middle School. The seniors were sent to New Hope High School, which later became Eastern Wayne High.

The rain did stop just in time for the parade line-up at 11:30 a.m. The parade started a little late, without a band but with more than a dozen entries.

After the parade, the alumni had their annual Family Picnic at the school.

Later Saturday night, the group had hospitality hour at Quality Inn and Suites, with music provided by "Sweet and Nice -- LJ the DJ."

Today, the group was to hold the final event of the homecoming weekend at Woods Chapel Free Will Baptist Church on New Hope Road. During the worship service, the alumni were to give more than $6,000 in scholarships to 14 high school students.

The scholarship recipients include Khiry Qwame Best, Raven Alyssia Brinkley, Lauren Elizabeth Bynum, Jennifer Denise Coley, Dominique D. Gause, Erica Leigh Jackson, Kiahna Jameika Johnson, Marissa Yvonne Lewis, Keiasha Martika Oates, Darius Ramel Rowe, Jesse Leonard Scott II, Tobias A. Smith, Vesta Ka'Ren Tolbert and Roderica Na Keea Worrell.