Nine months of planning to Celebrate Woodleaf School

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Frank DeLoache
More than nine months of work by dozens of people will culminate Oct. 11 with the first Celebrate Woodleaf School.
And it can’t come too soon for co-chairs Sarah Abernethy and Paige Fowler Lyerly.
They’re expecting at least 500 people ó counting alumni from 1926 through 1959, their family members and friends ó and they certainly hope for more. Because they’re inviting anyone who’s interested to just show up and learn how much Woodleaf School changed lives and contributed to the larger community.
The day begins at 10 a.m. that Saturday with an opening ceremony in the school auditorium.
The Rev. Charles Gibbons (Class of ’61) and Pat Fleming Swicegood (’61) will serve as co-emcees of the gathering.
After a greeting from Susan Herrington, current principal of Woodleaf Elementary School, the audience will be treated to a skit with four scenes showing the progression of Woodleaf School through the years.
Organizers will then present Herrington with a trophy case as a gift for the elementary school. Abernethy said Ronnie Gobble (’63) and his son got the case from another school and refurbished it.
The opening gathering will conclude with:
– Six former students or staff talking about their memories of the school: Bill Cansler, a coach from the ’50s; Margie Hartley (’56); Conrad Weiser (’57); Nannie Mae Atwell (’48); Lorene Coates (’54); former Principal Pam Lippard; and Gibbons.
– Recognition of former principals, including Ray Shytle and Robert Hunter, and teachers, including Lois Miller, Mary Wyatt and Suzanne Hall and Frances Benson.
– Susan Wetmore leading the audience in the school song of the former Woodleaf High School.
– Recognition of all veterans and announcements.
Then from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., those gathered will have their choice of a number of activities:
– Hamburgers, hot dogs and other food will be sold by Woodleaf United Methodist Church. Proceeds from the sales benefit the church’s building fund.
– Former teachers will direct tours of the school, and Wetmore will provide additional music.
– The Woodleaf Fire Department will provide a truck and the Smoke House, where children can learn to get out of a burning building.
– Jane Watson (’50) (see related article) will sell copies of her Woodleaf School history book. The book and a Celebrate Woodleaf School pin will sell for $10.
– Exhibits from a number of groups. Glenn Barber (’59) will show his baseball card collection, Curtis Waller (’61) will display his paintings, Gwynn Holliman (’65) will discuss her work with Child Evangelism Fellowship and Woodleaf Lanes, the Woodleaf PTA and N.C. Research Campus will have displays.
Organizers will hold an auction at 1 p.m., which will include a quilt sewn by Ann Denny, who attended Woodleaf School as an elementary student, and a Curtis Waller print.
In the gym, organizers also have arranged a Wall of Remembrance posting the names of every student who graduated from Woodleaf High School through 1959, Abernethy said.
Dozens of people have gotten involved in planning the Oct. 11 Celebrate Woodleaf School event, including members of five committees:
– Safety/Parking, led by J.D. Prevette and Sam Wetmore (’57).
– Correspondence, led by Martha Shaver (’62) and Betty Morgan.
– History/Booklets, led by Watson and Jean Dameron (’43).
– Sponsorships, led by Margie Hartley (’56) and George Benson (’64).
– Program/Activities, led by Lyerly (’61) and Abernethy (’63).
– Food/Exhibits, led by Bill Abernethy (’58) and Claude Gullett (’58).
Organizers expect the celebration to close by 4 p.m.
If you want more information ó you don’t have to RSVP to attend ó call Sarah Abernethy at 704-638-9840.