Alumni bridging the gap
By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 29, 2011 1:50 AM
Members of the Class of 1969 point and wave at fellow alumni during the Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni parade Saturday morning in downtown Goldsboro.
Five-year-old Kimya Easley has a simple philosophy when it comes to parades -- the best ones are where they give out candy.
"I have lollipops and this (candy). I just looked at (the band). I like the flag girls," Kimya said as she watched the annual Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni Parade from the comfort of her great-grandmother's, Mae Robinson's, lap.
Kimya and her great-grandmother were among the thousands of people who lined Center Street as more than 80 entries, including bands, floats and walkers, helped the association celebrate 56 years of community service.
It was, alumni said, a celebration of the schools' heritage and family-like atmosphere.
The event kicked off Thursday night with a scholarship and awards program at Goldsboro High School followed by the queen/king reception at the alumni building.
It continued Friday with class reunions and a dance. Saturday's events also included a picnic, dances and ball. The weekend is ending today with worship services, class picnics and a gospel concert at 4 p.m. at H.V. Brown Hall.
The Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni, formed in 1956 and chartered in 1959, has chapters in Goldsboro, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Mrs. Robinson, 75, who has lived in Goldsboro for the past 40 years, did not attend Dillard.
"I had eight children and they all graduated from Goldsboro High School," she said. "I have not missed one (parade) since I have been here. I enjoy the fellowship and how people progress and how they stay together and keep things going. There are a lot of people. I just like it all. I just love to see people get together and do things."
"I love it and I am looking forward to next year," said Kimya's mother, Tiffiney, a 2002 graduate of Goldsboro High School. "I am coming up to my 10th year reunion. I just like to come out and support the fellow classes. I enjoy the fellowship, the bands."
Grand marshals Habekah Cannon, this year's Goldsboro High School valedictorian, and Thaddeus Best, 83, Dillard High School Class of 1945, joked that they were practicing their waves as they waited for the parade's 10 a.m. start.
"It is a great honor," Miss Cannon said. "Actually I didn't know I was going to be up here with the grand marshal today. It is great and it is an honor to see how everybody loves their school and gives back so much and they are out here every year so it is an honor.
"I didn't know I was a grand marshal until I came out here today. It was, 'You are going to be in the parade, just come out here.' (Mr. Best) told me he used to be a contractor and we found out we know some of the same people.'"
With just two weeks remaining until graduation, Miss Cannon said she was "very excited." She plans to attend Hampton University in Virginia to major in English and hopes to attend law school.
"I leave the week after graduation," she said. "I am going to do a five-week summer program where I will take three classes and get three credits. I plan on finishing my bachelor's degree in two years and a semester."
Best said he felt honored to be a grand marshal and that he could do a whole lot of waving.
"And I am going to have a good time," he said.
Retired educator Janet Barnes, who was driving the grand marshals' convertible, said they were all hoping that the threatening rain would hold off until after the parade.
"Our theme is 'Bridging the Gap' so we needed to find an older person to be the old school and someone for the new school," said Ms. Barnes, past president of the Goldsboro alumni chapter. "There were some older Class of 1933 members, but they were unable to make it. It is great for me, because in the past, I used to be the band director at Goldsboro Middle School and I used to march the band in the parade.
"Since I retired in 2008, I have had the opportunity to ride in the parade as local chapter president and now I am driving the grand marshal. I went to Goldsboro High School. I was in the first class, 1970 -- integration was during that time. It was Dillard Alumni and when we graduated it became Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni and Friends. When I was in school I was in the band and marched in the parade. I taught 34 years and most of these kids that are celebrating their (graduation) year I have taught. It is blessing. It is blessing. God has been good."
Mamie Lewis Broadhurst Gill, Dillard High School Class of 1955, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who grew up on Charles Street in the Webbtown area of Goldsboro, represented the New York chapter in the parade.
"I come back every year," she said. "It is the fellowship and seeing old friends that I have not seen in years and I can enjoy the good Southern cooking that we don't get in New York and worshiping with everyone.
"I bring my family back so they can enjoy it and see how I lived when I was here. I still have family here. (Dillard Principal) Professor (Hugh Victor) Brown asked all his children to come back and celebrate, and that is what we do every Memorial Day.
"Goldsboro has grown so much. I have seen streets that I didn't know existed before. When I was here, basically it was trees. Adamsville, an area that I know, I don't know anymore."
She recalls that Dillard, which at that time was on Elm Street, had a strong marching band and a "fantastic" glee club that traveled extensively.
"We had a softball team and teachers who were fabulous," she said. "It was like a family. Everybody was close. You knew everybody because even after school you attended church and visited each other. It is like a great big family. It is a family reunion because most of us here are relatives."
She said that everywhere she looked she saw friends and classmates.
"It is a pleasure to see them," she said. "Coming back home and enjoying the country food and reminisce growing up here."
Jouette Cowan Smith, Dillard High School Class of 1967 , of Parlin, N.J., returns home every year for the celebration, too.
"I do not miss it," she said. "I would not miss it for anything. It is the love, dedication and devotion that we have for school and alumni. We have a relationship that is just unbeatable. We believe in scholarships. We believe in helping these children today to move forward and to just do great things and to come back an share their success with us.
"I think it is wonderful and I think it shows the love and togetherness that we have.
"It is just a chance to help us celebrate and help us enjoy our weekend. We are one of a kind. We are an exception to the rule -- we were able to succeed. We had teachers who took us, pushed far beyond even what we thought we could do when we were in school."