05/27/12 — For Central/Eastern alumni, togetherness feels just like family

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For Central/Eastern alumni, togetherness feels just like family

By Gary Popp
Published in News on May 27, 2012 1:50 AM

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Eastern Wayne senior Domynque Marrero smiles and waves to the crowd while leading her school's dance line in the Central/ Eastern Wayne Alumni Parade.

Alumni of Central and Eastern Wayne high schools showed their pride Saturday at the 40th annual alumni homecoming celebration parade.

Members of Central's Class of 1962 led the way, followed by the booming sound and spectacle of the Eastern Wayne marching band and hyped dance squad.

The procession included cars overflowing with excited alumni, the rumble of motorcycles and even a few horses.

Hosted by Central/Eastern Wayne Alumni & Friends, the parade pleased crowds that gathered on Central Heights Road, near where the parade began at Eastern Wayne Middle School.

Wearing a red, white and blue lei and a big, welcoming smile, Roy Best was at the front of the procession carrying a Class of 1962 banner.

Best lives in Washington, D.C., but said he makes regular trips to Goldsboro.

"I love coming back home," he said. "It is where you grew up at. You bring the roots back. You bring the roots back. You bring the roots back."

He said attending the first- through 12th-grade school meant being part of tight-knit of community.

Some of those relationships that have formed at Central and Eastern Wayne are so close, Best said, when you have the chance to reconnect, it is easy to pick up where you left off.

"You see old friends you haven't seen in years, it is just like family all over again," he said.

Best also serves as the alumni president his class, which is now celebrating its 50-year anniversary.

Best said he keeps in touch with other classmates from his D.C. home through phone calls and emails.

"We feel great. Look at us," he said, motioning to a group of his former classmates having fun walking in unison to a military-style march. "We look like stars."

Best said he and his peers thought very little, at the time, about attending a school that functioned under segregation.

"It was great. We didn't know no better," he said. "We didn't know race, so what we care? Fifty years ago we didn't know a lot of things we know now."

He said it felt normal to play with white kids in the afternoon, then wake up the next day to attend an all-black school.

Best said he learned principles at Central that he keeps with him today.

"If your heart is about something, continue what you are doing," he said. "Don't be afraid to be a success."

The dynamic gathering recognized not only those who have graduated, but also those who made it possible, like educator Deloris Johnson.

Mrs. Johnson began teaching at Central High School in 1957. She continued to educate in the school, until integration was implemented, when she was reassigned to Eastern Wayne, where she served until 1993.

"I have a deep concern for the students I taught, and I am still committed to them, even after retiring," she said. "It is just fulfilling to come back, and the love that is showed, the hugs and kisses. It means a lot."

She said many of her former students express a greater appreciation as adults for their education than when they were children in her classroom.

"Now that they are out, they just realize how much we cared and how much we helped them," Mrs. Johnson said.

She said it is rewarding to meet with the graduates who have found success through their education.

At the tail end of the procession, Cory Durham and Troy Cottin, both 24, added a unique flair by riding atop two trotting horses.

Both men currently attend UNC-Pembroke and said they were excited to be part of the Dillard/Goldsboro parade Saturday morning downtown and the Central/Eastern Wayne parade, although neither attended Eastern Wayne.

But Durham's father, Terry Durham, is an Eastern Wayne alumnus.

"I honestly like to see this. I think it is great to see people from all the high schools come together and show pride," Cottin said. "It is really good to keep everybody together and connected. It is a shock to see this. I think more people should try to do this."