Fic­quett cel­e­brates golden an­niver­sary

School first opened to stu­dents in 1957

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jenny Thompson

All who have at­tended or worked at Fic­quett El­e­men­tary School are in­vited to the school’s 50th An­niver­sary Cel­e­bra­tion and Sock Hop from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 10.

Prin­ci­pal Miriam Wilkins said both for­mer and cur­rent stu­dents and teach­ers are ex­cited about Satur­day evening’s event. “The an­niver­sary will be a great op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal Fic­quett alumni to re­call and per­haps share ex­pe­ri­ences they had at the school,” Wilkins said.

Har­ri­ette Moss was in sixth grade when she be­gan classes at Fic­quett, which at the time housed stu­dents from first to eighth grades.

Moss re­mem­bered start­ing her school day on April 3, 1957 at Cov­ing­ton El­e­men­tary, which once stood where the Cov­ing­ton Po­lice De­part­ment now sits on Cony­ers Street.

“ We all took our books and the whole en­tire school walked over there that morn­ing from the old school to the new school — it was quite an event.

“ Ev­ery­body that walked over there that day re­mem­bers it.”

First grade stu­dents had to carry their chairs the ap­prox­i­mate half- mile to Fic­quett.

Moss will present a slide show of old class and bas­ket­ball team pic­tures from Fic­quett’s first few years at this week­end’s cel­e­bra­tion.

The school was named af­ter the school su­per­in­ten­dent, E. L. Fic­quett. Ge­orge Hutchin­son was the school’s first prin­ci­pal.

Hutchin­son’s son, Ge­orge Hutchin­son Jr., at­tended the school from 1961 to 1969.

“ I re­mem­ber all the teach­ers from that era so well be­cause they were like fam­ily to me with my dad be­ing prin­ci­pal,” Hutchin­son said. “ I was roam­ing the halls be­fore I even went there.”

Hutchin­son holds fond mem­o­ries from his early child­hood of Marvin Ham­monds, the school’s head jan­i­tor, push­ing him through the halls on a dolly

He said the school, a shiny, new fa­cil­ity, also housed many meet­ings and ban­quets for Cub and Boy Scouts as well as other lo­cal civic or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Not only was Hutchin­son’s fa­ther the first prin­ci­pal at Fic­quett, but also his mother taught there and his two chil­dren cur­rently at­tend. He also works next door to the school at the cen­tral of­fice of the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion as a school so­cial worker.

Louise Adams, prin­ci­pal of Fic­quett from 1981 to 1995, also plans to at­tend the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion and re­union. Adams was the first black, fe­male as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at the school start­ing in 1977 and went on to be­come the school’s first black prin­ci­pal.

“At first it was hard for some of the white teach­ers, stu­dents and par­ents to ac­cept me as the prin­ci­pal of the largest el­e­men­tary school in the county,” Adams said.

How­ever, once her col­leagues and stu­dents and par­ents be­came aware of her ded­i­ca­tion and abil­ity to fa­cil­i­tate the school’s needs, things ad­vanced smoothly.

“ Stu­dents knew I loved them re­gard­less of their eth­nic­ity and that I was con­sis­tent with dis­ci­pline and praise when it was war­ranted.”

Un­der Adams’ di­rec­tion Fic­quett pi­loted sev­eral pro­grams still in ex­is­tence in the county to­day such as the first half- day kinder­garten class, the first spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion class, the first English as a sec­ond lan­guage pro­gram and the first D. A. R. E pro­gram in New­ton County schools.

“A lot has changed in Fic­quett’s 50 year his­tory,” Wilkins said, “ not only in the fa­cil­ity, but also in the cur­ricu­lum and the way the school op­er­ates.”

Gail Carter, Fic­quett’s me­dia spe­cial­ist, at­tended the school from 1959 to 1967. She be­gan work­ing at the school in 1991 and can name sev­eral dif­fer­ences in its phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance as well as prac­tices.

The school has added a gym and ex­panded the me­dia cen­ter with ad­di­tions in 1988, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Fic­quett also now em­ploys 19 trail­ers as class­rooms.

Girls had to wear dresses or skirts to school and could not wear pants or shorts when Carter at­tended.

She said phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, art and mu­sic are now sep­a­rate classes for stu­dents whereas class­room teach­ers were re­spon­si­ble for those sub­jects when she was a stu­dent.

“ My third grade teacher loved art,” Carter said. “ That’s how I learned how to draw a tree — I still re­mem­ber it.”

She also re­mem­bers be­ing timed walk­ing home dur­ing the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis so school of­fi­cials would know how long it would take ev­ery stu­dent to reach their houses if dis­as­ter struck.

If a stu­dent had per­fect at­ten­dance for the week, he or she was al­lowed to go home an hour early on Fri­day. If an en­tire class had per­fect at­ten­dance for the week, they were dis­missed im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing lunch on Fri­day.

She re­mem­bers the de­li­cious chili, Brunswick stew and cin­na­mon rolls the cafe­te­ria once served.

Most stu­dents be­haved well be­cause of the loom­ing pos­si­bil­ity of cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment.

“ Prin­ci­pal Ge­orge Hutchin­son was very well re­spected and we all were afraid of him in a way be­cause we thought he had an elec­tric pad­dle in his of­fice,” Carter said, “ but it turned out to be an elec­tric tie press.”

To­day, ev­ery class­room at Fic­quett has a television. When Carter was a girl, teach­ers brought in their own tele­vi­sions on days when im­por­tant events were be­ing tele­vised such as NASA space pro­gram launches.

Prin­ci­pal Hutchin­son also al­lowed tele­vi­sions in the lunch­room dur­ing the ma­jor league base­ball World Se­ries.

When Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963, Carter was on the swing set when an­other stu­dent rushed out say­ing the pres­i­dent had been killed.

Carter re­mem­bered that Novem­ber day when she learned of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, stand­ing in Fic­quett’s cafe­te­ria.

Al­though much has changed through­out the years, the tight- knit at­mos­phere at Fic­quett has not. Carter’s mother taught at Fic­quett and her fa­ther sold school sup­plies. Her hus­band and two chil­dren also at­tended the school.

Wilkins said the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion is not solely for those who at­tended or worked at Fic­quett, but open to the pub­lic.

“ The event will be fun for the en­tire fam­ily,” Wilkins said. “ We’d love par­tic­i­pa­tion from the en­tire com­mu­nity.”

Sub­mit­ted Photo

Slice of the past: This photo, cour­tesy of Har­ri­ette Moss, show the grad­u­at­ing 1957- 58 eighth grade class at E. L. Fic­quett School.

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