Washington named History Hero
KENT NARROWS — In 1935, the first high school in Queen Anne’s County for African Americans was built in Centreville. The building remained a high school until 1951, which is when Queen Anne’s County High School was built, and became an elementary school until 1966. Over the next 50 years, the old school fell into disrepair.
That was until Clayton Washington, executive director of the Kennard
Alumni Association, and other graduates of the old high school began a restoration project in 2007. Washington and his team raised $700,000 for phase one of the restoration with funds from Queen Anne’s County, the state and multiple African American history programs. The group eventually raised the full funds needed for the restoration, which was $2.1 million.
And on Saturday, Nov. 12, Queen Anne’s County Historian Mary Margaret Revell Goodwin read a proclamation, during the second annual history summit, from the county commissioners dubbing Washington the second winner of the History Hero award. The award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding historical contributions to the county and is presented during the histor y summit.
The summit, which consisted of 10 panel discussions throughout the day at the Holiday Inn Express, was started by Goodwin
in 2015. The first History Hero Award was presented to Myrtle Bruscup for her work creating the county’s history filing system at both the librar y branches.
Now called the Kennard High School African American Cultural Heritage Center, Washington said he hopes the building will be a hub for community programs and a “place to grow our young people here in this county.” The building will also have an African American history museum, a safe space and recreation center for kids to come after school.
“We were blessed with just some good people that were put in our paths as we started this project,” Washington said.
Washington said the real purpose of the building is to go “beyond being just pretty,” though it has been restored wonderfully. He said the real work is just beginning in creating programs and partnering with organizations to help community members.
“We don’t claim ownership even though we do own it,” Washington said after explaining the Alumni Association purchased the building from the county for $1.
“We now own that building, but I will tell you that it belongs to all of you, and it belongs to this county. It’s the African American legacy for us here in the county, but it belongs to all of us.”
Washington said programing has already been scheduled. Teaming up with the county’s Board of Education, the Partnering for Youth after school program currently holds classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The night of the history summit, Washington said the Kennard Alumni Association held its annual fundraiser and was excited the building was renovated in time.
Former County Commissioner Bob Simmons, who had been supportive of the restoration project during his time on the commission, thanked Washington for his “consistent efforts for so many years staying behind this project.”
For more information about the Kennard High School African American Cultural Heritage Center, visit the association’s website: www.kennardalumni.com.
Look for more stories from the history summit in next week’s edition.
Former Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Bob Simmons, right, presents Kennard Alumni Association Executive Director Clayton Washington with a proclamation during the 2016 History Summit at the Holiday Inn Express on Saturday, Nov. 12.