STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Stone County Middle School was once the site of Locker High School, the county's African American high school in the days of segregation.
Friday morning, students who attended Locker High were invited back for a special reunion. It was a chance to rekindle old friendships and share special memories of high school days.
"I know as you walk these halls you remember some memories. You go back and think about what you did, what you accomplished here. We're trying to do the same things now in these same halls, trying to make memories with our students," said Stone County School District Superintendent Inita Owen.
A mural in the main hall of the middle school recognizes the existence and accomplishments of Locker High School.
"I almost started crying when I pulled up, remembering the bon fire that we had on the front of the campus before football games. You remember the buses pulling up for the games and that gym where I played basketball," said Judge Deborah Gambrell-Chambers.
Gambrell-Chambers said the Locker High students always had a sense of pride and accomplishment, despite the obstacle of segregation.
"At Locker, we had no class structure. Didn't matter where your parents lived or whatever. We recognized, loved each other and nurtured each other. You come from Wiggins, a small town, doesn't mean young people, that you can't compete everywhere," Gambrell-Chambers told the students.
The longtime principal of Locker High was the guest of honor. A special recognition was given to 97-year-old Needham Jones, known by all as "Professor Jones."
"Thank you for your dedication to the education of our community," read Dr. Ursula Whitehead, as she presented a plaque to the former principal.
"We would tell the students that you have just as much as anybody else. Whatever you want to do, if you put forth the effort, you will be able to do it," said Jones.
The unveiling and dedication of a historic marker at the school entrance will ensure the story of Locker High will always get the recognition it deserves.
"To the young people who are here today, I want you to know that you're standing on the shoulder of some strong folk," said Gambrell-Chambers.
Locker High School was named in honor of W.P. Locker. Born a slave in North Carolina in 1854, he later moved to Stone County and became a well-known educator.