05/22/09 — Alumni organization crowns top fundraiser as '09 reunion begins

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Alumni organization crowns top fundraiser as '09 reunion begins

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 22, 2009 1:46 PM

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This year's Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Queen Gloria Jean Smith is crowned by last year's king Curtis Meadows Jr. at the alumni scholarship and awards program Thursday evening. Mrs. Smith raised $14,190 for the scholarship fund. The event kicks off the annual Dillard/Goldsboro alumni weekend.

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Dillard/Goldsboro alumnus Ann Rowe of the Class of 1974 dances to a Beyonce song during a break in the action at Thursday night's Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Scholarship and Awards Program.

More than $91,000 in scholarships were awarded to Goldsboro High School students Thursday night during the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni and Friends, Inc. scholarship and awards program.

A queen was also crowned, but it was a former queen who commanded the most attention for the evening.

Ann Rowe, Class of 1974, was alumni queen two years ago. On Thursday evening, though, she was more of a dancing queen, resembling Tyler Perry's Madea. She appeared intermittently throughout the evening, at one point giving Mayor Al King the opportunity to demonstrate his dancing skills on stage, and later returning in a hot pink number to perform her own rendition of Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies."

Mostly, though, the evening centered around the theme of "Old School, New School -- Uniting for the Future," recognizing classes from 1944 to the current group of graduates anticipating their diplomas in a few weeks.

Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Association has grown over the years, boasting the offshoot of five chapters -- Goldsboro, Washington D.C., New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

Janet Barnes, Class of 1970 and president of the Goldsboro chapter, served as mistress of ceremonies for the coronation of the association's new queen. Selection is based on money raised for the group's scholarship fund.

Only one contestant was in the running this year, although other chapters also raised funds for the program.

Gloria Jean Smith, Dillard Class of 1959, represented the Goldsboro chapter and raised $14,190. Other contributions came from the DC and New Jersey chapters, with $2,000 each, and New York, with $500.

The mother of two and grandmother of two, Mrs. Smith grew up on the grounds of Cherry Hospital and later returned to work there. The bulk of her working life was spent with the Wayne County Public Welfare Department, where she became the first black social worker in the Wayne County office, Mrs. Barnes said.

The annual homecoming is a time for reminiscing, handing out college aid to students and eliciting more participation for the future.

George Williams, Class of 1959, recalled 1965, the year the doors of the school on West Elm Street closed and his freshman class started at Dillard High School.

He remembered "being there those four years, walking down those halls and having the best teachers in the world because back then the teachers knew your parents, they were truancy officers riding up and down the streets. Those were good days and we were the last class to graduate from Dillard High School."

Others following the class wished they could have also graduated from the school, he said.

"We have invited the Class of 1970, '71 and '72 to meet with us each year to make them feel like they graduated from Dillard High School," he said, turning his attention to the Class of 2009. "Don't lose contact with your classmates. You're supposed to grow up and stay in contact."

Representatives from more than two dozen classes paraded across the stage to announce their donations to the scholarship and building funds, with more than $11,000 acknowledged during the event.

"This is what this is all about," said Elwood Croom, Class of 1959 and the evening's emcee. "This is not going to stop."

The group's scholarship fund has become the "envy of many," said Mayor King.

GHS Principal Patricia Burden expressed appreciation on behalf of the student recipients.

"You have done an impressive job recognizing Goldsboro High School tonight," she said. "Many of these students may not have the hope without knowing there's backers here in Goldsboro representing the Dillard/Goldsboro alumni ... that are willing to help them start the journey as they exit high school."

Thelma Smith, national scholarship chairman, paid tribute to the efforts of students, encouraging them to take their place within the alumni group after graduation.

"For years, we have been trying to find ways to get Goldsboro High School to become part of this organization," she said. "We need your fresh ideas and your young legs because we need both young and old to continue this legacy. We have been on this journey a long time, and we have fun raising this money. It's a labor of love, because you're our children, and if we don't help ensure your future, no one else will."

Events continue throughout Memorial Day weekend, including a 10 a.m. parade downtown Saturday, an evening of jazz Sunday at 8 at Paramount Theater, and a performance by Marvin Bullock, an original member of The Platters on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Paramount.