05/26/13 — Central-Eastern alumni driven by a desire to inspire

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Central-Eastern alumni driven by a desire to inspire

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on May 26, 2013 1:50 AM

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Members of the Class of '93, led by LaVonda Pat-Battle, left, celebrate their 20-year reunion during the Central-Eastern Wayne Alumni and Friends 41st annual reunion parade Saturday afternoon.

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Yaziah Artis, 6, Jasmine Kelly, 9, and Uarylay Shepherd, 9, lead the Central-Eastern Wayne Alumni and Friends Association parade Saturday afternoon while wearing sparkly patriotic top hats.

A few semis, a handful of custom cars and the Eastern Wayne High School marching band took a short trip around Central Heights Saturday afternoon as part of the Central-Eastern Wayne Alumni & Friends 41st annual reunion.

The parade -- beginning with three young girls with patriotic top hats carrying a banner and ending with some modern day cowboys -- moved through the Central Heights community while participants waved and cheered.

The Class of '93 was one of the more rowdy floats of the parade thanks in part to LaVonda Pat-Battle, who brought noisemakers for those gathered on the float.

"Blow. That's why y'all are up there. Make some noise," she said.

The grads of '93 responded, shouting and dancing to grab the attention of sidewalk photographers.

Terri Dickerson, another member of the class, showed off her old yellow flagger jacket with her name spelled on the back.

"That just shows that you've been small your whole life," said classmate Lakesha Brown as the group traded jabs back and forth in jest as they remembered past years.

"We get together and see people we haven't seen in years. It's about the fellowship really," Ms. Brown said.

"We have all types of fun. We get a lot done in such a short weekend," she said.

"This is my hometown," said Latesha Bizzell Taylor, a Class of '93 grad now living in South Carolina. "I try to come out every year. It's the only time I get to see some of my classmates."

Latrice Worrells also sat in with the group although she didn't fit in exactly. She was the "baby" of the group, graduating in '94. Whenever she spoke up, she was interrupted jokingly.

"Next year is y'all's year. Stand down," Mrs. Pat-Battle said.

Classes ending in 3 and 8 were honored during this year's festivities.

Tic Lewis, a member of the Class of '73, also took part in the parade. His class was well represented with a few cars and a large semi owned by Thomas Smith.

"When you come together, you get to see many classmates. Everyone comes back together and mingles. It's just wonderful and joyful," he said.

Beside the parade, a number of other events were held throughout the weekend to celebrate Central-Eastern Wayne and its alumni.

Friday night, a banquet at Best Grove Missionary Baptist Church featured guest speaker Priscilla Robinson Best, a retired school teacher who served in public education for more than 30 years.

Saturday morning saw a Dutch breakfast at Murray's restaurant, and a picnic featuring barbecue chicken and pork shoulder catered by McCall's followed the Central Heights parade on Saturday afternoon.

During the event, T-shirts and car flags were sold to help raise money for scholarships to help local high school students offset college fees.

The scholarships will be announced at 5 p.m. today at Best Grove. Vice President David Simmons said that the scholarships, not the more well-known parade, is the real reason that the Central-Eastern Wayne Alumni & Friends Association is so important.

"(The scholarships) are a contribution to our inheritance with Central Heights, and it's evolved to include Eastern Wayne. We're a group of people who desire to give back to the community and give the youth inspiration," Simmons said.

During the Sunday's awards program, the group also will honor former choir director Angelo Holman. In remembrance, a choir made up from grads from the '70s through today will sing some choral favorites. Ebony Bowden Cogdell, 2000 Goldsboro High School graduate and current disability recruitment manager for the U.S. Department of Defense, will speak during the event.

"It's an obligation to parents and siblings. I feel an obligation with them to get involved with this organization," Simmons said.