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Friends return to remember school days

Educators, students and supporters of Academy Street High School gathered over the weekend for their eighth school reunion.

“We’re trying to keep the memory of the school and the people who were there alive,” said Charles Stringer, chairman of the reunion committee and a 1957 graduate of the school.

Saturday evening, the group met for a formal banquet at J. Michelle’s where those present laughed, hugged and reminisced about their school days.

“I love it,” said Kenneth Jones, class of 1970. “I get the chance to see people I haven’t seen in a while. And there are new faces each time. There are always surprises.”

Jones was in the last class that graduated from the high school, which is now listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks & Heritage.

“You can still feel that old school spirit, tonight,” Jones said.

Jones’ sisters, Linda (class of 1973) and Cynthia Jones Cardwell (class of 1974), also attended Academy Street High School.

“I was in the last class to attend the school,” Jones Cardwell said with a smile.

Anita Kelly wasn’t an Academy Street student, but said she attends the reunions because her mother was a 1956 graduate.

“I love the opportunity to mix and mingle with the great generation,” Kelly said.

Until 1970, Academy Street High School was an all black institution. After Christmas break in 1970, all students were transferred to Charles Henderson High School by a federal court order.

Corine Byrd Artis now lives in New York where she also graduated from high school. She returned for her first Academy Street High School reunion because she said she had fond memories as part of the class of 1963.

“I was born and raised here,” Artis said. “The Southern hospitality has been just great. I am happy to have returned”

Academy Street High School reunions are planned every two years.