07/05/09 — Carver alumni reunite Saturday

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Carver alumni reunite Saturday

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 5, 2009 9:11 AM

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Members of the Carver High School Class of 1969 wave to classmates and friends during the Carver High School Alumni and Friends Association's 27th annual reunion parade on Saturday.

Belinda Hobbs Hayes was tired from staying up until about 2 a.m. Saturday decorating her three-wheel bicycle for Saturday morning's Carver High School Alumni and Friends Association's parade.

Nevertheless, when parade time came at 10 a.m. she was near the front of a lineup of vehicles sporting blue and gold -- the school's colors.

"Oh, yeah," she said. "I take my supplement vitamins. I wouldn't be on this bicycle without them."

"I have been to about 25 (of the 27) reunions," said Ms. Hayes who now resides in Philadelphia.

A member of the Class of 1969, Ms. Hayes said it is the "love of Carver and what it gave us" that keeps bringing her back.

For Ms. Hobbs, like the hundreds of Carver High School alumni who returned home this weekend for the reunion, it was not only a chance to renew old friendships, but to set a course for what they hope will ensure the school's continued influence in the community.

After the parade ended, classmates gathered in the school parking lot. Many wore gold-colored T-shirts with the school's tiger logo. Others sported blue polo-style shirts.

The parade, business meeting and picnic were just the start for the Class of 1969 as later in the day they headed to Durham Lake at Dudley.

"Durham Lake is one of our old stomping grounds," she said. "So it will bring back a whole lot of memories being down at Durham Lake. It is a blessing that we can still go down there and celebrate like that.

"I was baptized in that lake."

A number of hands went up and shouts when she said, "How many people out here were baptized at Durham Lake? God has been good to us. We have a good turnout; about 20 of us made it."

Association members voted during their annual business session Saturday morning to work with the town in its efforts to lease the old school property from the Wayne County Board of Education.

The site had been the home of Southern Academy, an alternative school. However, that school was moved and consolidated with Belfast Academy.

Association members envision being able to use the old campus for educational programs and community activities, including the events associated with the annual reunion.

Some members wanted to know how soon a decision was needed in light of still unanswered questions concerning costs and renovations.

Local chapter president Donald Faison said the town board would meet Wednesday so immediate action is needed.

Town leaders, while receptive to the project, have yet to act.

"We are doing a lot of things in our community," said association national president Al Southerland. "We feel we have set the groundwork for a lot of good things here in Mount Olive. All we have done today is to set the stage so that we can do even more and we ask that you continue to work with us.

"It will take time for us to realize the importance of what we have done today. In the months ahead you are going to be called upon to help do things to help us accomplish our goals."

Faison said that membership is declining and that an infusion of new and younger blood is needed in order to ensure the association's vitality.

"We are already primarily an organization of senior citizens," he said. "So this is something that we need to continue to work on. We have had a few people to join us, but we need a lot more."

The weekend got under way Thursday morning with a fundraising golf tournament at Southern Wayne Country followed by Youth Night that included the awarding of scholarships, at Carver Elementary School.

More than 200 people attended a reception and banquet held Friday night at the Lois K. Murphy Regional Center on the campus of Mount Olive College.

Following the business session, the school's old cafeteria was packed as alumni and family gathered for a barbecue meal.

Also on Saturday afternoon, the ball field behind the school was dedicated in memory of Dr. Spencer Durante, a former principal at the school. The day's activities ended with a dance.

A prayer breakfast was held this morning to close out the reunion weekend.