Calling all Biloxi alumni to share photos, memorabilia

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  "Look at all those names.  Isn't that wonderful?" Charline "Chinky" Redding Rosonet Cole commented as she held up an old picture.

A glance at some vintage photos is a trip down memory lane for Cole.  The faces of the past and stories of school years gone by are still vivid for her.

"I remember being totally afraid of your teachers. You were afraid to do anything wrong because they would call your mother and your father and you would catch it at school and you would catch it when you got home," Cole said.

Cole went to Lopez School in Biloxi and was a member of the dance team "Toothbrush Brigade."

"Our mothers made the costumes and made the toothbrushes," said Cole.

Her class was the first to attend Michel School after it was built. Cole's photos will be part of a very special exhibit next year. The school district is collecting pictures, documents, and memorabilia for its 150th anniversary on May 17th, 2010.

"I have a lot of trophies from the old Lopez school.  But I'm hoping that Dukate, and Gorenflo and the old Howard II, anyone that has those somewhere, that they will donate to us," said Biloxi School District Historian Lee Ann Dubaz.

Countless students have attended Biloxi schools since its founding in 1860.  Kay Semski showed a picture of her late husband, Lawrence Semski, who served as a Harrison County Family Court Judge.

"The schools back then educated many, many of the graduates, who went on to do great things," Semski said.

One yearbook featured a picture of A.J. Holloway, years before he became mayor of Biloxi.

"He was actually the business manager for the school district," Dubaz said.

And before she attained stardom on ESPN and ABC's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts got some of her education in Biloxi. One yearbook picture showed her in pigtails.

"Yes, she actually went to Nichols her 7th and 8th grade year," said Dubaz.  "I found my husband's yearbooks and brought them.  So I'm even thinking about asking her to see if she will come down and maybe host or be an MC for us for the celebration."

So much history, once stored away in closets, attics, and garages, will now help the Biloxi School District celebrate its milestones and memories.

"The education that I got was wonderful," said Cole.  "It not only prepared you for going off to college. Then after you left college, to come back to your hometown, get involved in other things. It was wonderful."

"So many people lost so much and these items will be able to be shared not only by the school district, but by anybody in Biloxi," said Dubaz.  "We will have some of them here on display, and the rest will be at the library.  It's important that we start gathering up these things so they're not lost."

If you have some items you'd like to share, just call the Biloxi School District at (228) 374-1810, extension 118. The photos and documents will be scanned and the originals will be returned to the owners.

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