Kennard dinner honors alums in renovated school
CENTREVILLE — The Kennard Alumni Association held its ninth annual dinner dance gala Saturday evening, Nov. 12, this year for the first time at the former Kennard High School building. The gala originally began as a benefit to assist in generation funds to help renovate and restore the former school building that was originally constructed in 1936 as one of thousands of school built across the nation as one of the New Deal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The building closed in 1966, and was left in disrepair following the opening of Queen Anne’s County High School in 1967, the year segregation ended in the county. Kennard High School was one of four segregated high schools in the county up until 1966. Kennard was the only “colored” high school. The other three, Stevensville, Centreville, and Sudlersville high schools, were for “white” students.
Complying with the directive issued by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in landmark Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954), schools across the nation were to desegregate “with all deliberate speed.” Beginning in 1967, all high school students in Queen Anne’s County attended the same integrated school in Centreville.
Concerned Kennard alumni hoped to someday renovate the building and turn it into the Kennard High School Cultural Heritage Center and African American Histor y Museum.
Kennard graduate Clayton Washington of Grasonville, president of the Kennard Alumni Association, has led the movement to have the building renovated.
Saturday evening at the gala, as he welcomed all who attended, Washington said, “Watch this, I’m about to jump for joy!” His feet never left the floor, but he made the motion of jumping and laughed, saying, “That’s about as high as I can get at my age.”
“Being able to be here in this building is a special moment and what we have worked for over the years,” he added. “A dream is about to become a reality. The project is not totally completed yet. We want this building to become a great resource for education. Many of you have gone above and beyond the call to make this happen. I haven’t done this alone.”
Washington presented two Larry S. Jones Helping Hands Awards on behalf of the alumni association. One award went to Joe and Rosalee Butler, both graduates of Kennard, who now reside in Burlington, N.J. Their daughter Taneisa, of Wake Forest, N.C., stood in for her mother Rosalee, who was unable to attend.
The second award went to James “Jimmy” Pauls and his wife Dorothy “Dottie” Pauls, of Centreville. Their daughters, Sharon and Janet, along with grandson, Clarence, were present to witness the award. Both couples have made significant contributions to the restoration and renovation project, Washington said.
The Rev. Alice Hutchins gave a blessing on the evening and food. Her words were, “Dear God, It’s amazing how the Lord provides …,” concluding with an audience “Amen.” She thanked God for seeing the effort to restore the Kennard building and all who had hoped to see this day come about.
The dinner was by Helen Todd Catering of Centreville. Entertainment was provided by local DJ Maurice Wright, and professional ventriloquist Ken Huff and Mr. Goodwood performed. Huff’s performance lasted more than 20 minutes and topped the evening off with great laughter.
A grand opening and dedication ceremony for the building are planned for sometime in the next year. There will be a Donor Wall of Fame listing at Kennard for all those who have helped and will continue to help with further funding donations. The renovation has been funded through numerous fundraisers, private donations and historical preser vation grants thus far.
Longtime Queen Anne’s County school teacher, administrator and former school board member, Madelyn Hollis stands inside her classroom at the former Kennard High School. The classroom his 8 feet wide and 35 feet long. She said the largest class she had inside the cramped classroom was 25 students. The black board and book shelf remain the same.
Dorothy “Dottie” and James “Jimmy” Pauls, center, were presented the Larry S. Jones Helping Hands Award by the Kennard Alumni Association. With them, from the left, daughter Sharon Mayo, grandson Clarence Brown II and daughter Janet Pauls.
Guffie Smith of Calvert County points to pictures of his wife’s classmates who previously attended Kennard High School in Queen Anne’s County. The school, built in 1936, closed in 1966. Smith and his wife attended the Kennard Alumni Association gala Saturday evening, Nov. 12, inside the renovated school building.
With his daughter Taneisa, Kennard alumnus Joe Butler of Burlington, NJ, hold the Larry S. Jones Helping Hands Award presented to him and his wife Rosalee, who was not able to attend. They were thanked for their outstanding contributions to the restoration and renovation of the former Kennard High School. Both Joe and Rosalee graduated from Kennard.