Vol. 1 No. 1
Roy L Roulhac, Editor
It Was A Grand Success !!
On December 1, 1995, the Jackson County Training School Reunion Committee sent out a call to former students, faculty and staff of Gilmore Academy and Jackson County Training School to attend a July 5-7, 1996, all-school reunion in Marianna, Florida. Over 600 came from far and near with spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, and family to witness this historic event. Recognizing the significance of Gilmore Academy and JCTS in Jackson County's history, the Mayor and the Jackson County Board of Commissioners proclaimed July 5-7, 1996, Gilmore Academy-Jackson County Training School Weekend.
The weekend included a Get Acquainted Banquet/Dance at the Chipola Fine Arts Center; a picnic at the last JCTS campus; and a worship service at the 2nd West Florida Missionary Baptist Association Facility located on the first site of Gilmore Academy. The reunion was a time for reminiscing. For some, memories were vivid and clear, as if it were only
yesterday. Others pretended to remember but could register neither name nor face. For everyone, it was a chance to get together with longtime
friends and to renew acquaintances.
Mattie Belle Fagan Berrian and Linda Darby Jones' leadership and commitment made the reunion a grand success and a memorable experience.
The steering committee included: Raymonia Paramore Robinson, Elmer Roger Clay, Gina Darby Highsmith, Barbara Thompson Johnson, Vema' Black Mack, and Gwen Inez Swilley Summers. They all deserve our heartfelt appreciation for a job well done.
The reunion, however, was more than fun and fellowship. It served as a
unique opportunity for GA-JCTS alumni to formally organize themselves
and explore mutual interests and possibilities; We decided to organize a
Gilmore Academy-JCTS Alumni Association. An association will provide an opportunity; for alumni to use their collective talents to plan future
reunions, renew and foster a spirit of camaraderie, and to give something back to Jackson County. Its success hinges on member support.
The Idea of an Alumni Association
During the July 7 worship service at the 2nd West Florida Missionary Baptist Association, I proposed that we use our homecoming to organize an alumni association. The idea was heartily supported. Each class selected representatives to form an interim organizing committee (See enclosed list). I agreed to explore the formation of an alumni association and review the articles of incorporation of the Jackson
County Training School Panther Foundation, Inc., to determine whether
another organization was necessary.
The JCTS Panther Foundation, Inc., a Florida business for-profit corporation, was incorporated October 19, 1990 to:
(1) grant scholarships; (2) provide assistance in training in /business
administrative skills; and (3) improve the educational and business aspects of Jackson County. The foundation was administratively dissolved by the State of Florida, October 11,1991. Although the foundation can be reactivated its existence as a for-profit corporation does not conflict with the objectives of a non-profit alumni association. The missions are different.
The GA-JCTS Alumni Association
The name of the corporation shall be the Gilmore Academy-Jackson County
Training School Alumni Association, Inc. The purpose of the GA-JCTS
Alumni Association is to: (1) support and foster a spirit of camaraderie and community among former staff, students and faculty of the former
Gilmore Academy and Jackson County Training School, (2) assemble and
preserve historical records and memorabilia about the school, its
founder, former students, staff and faculty; (3) create a database of
Gilmore Academy-JCTS alumni; (4) broaden professional contacts by
networking with fellow alumni; (5) sponsor activities that will enhance
feelings of identity between alumni and the Jackson County community; and (6) such other purposes as the Board of Directors may authorize. The association can also coordinate a drive to change rename Marianna Middle School to Gilmore Academy-JCTS Middle School as proposed at the reunion banquet by a former student.
Membership in the alumni association is open to all former GA-JCTS faculty, staff, and students. Alumni who pay dues by January 15, 1997 will be listed as incorporators on the Articles of Incorporation that will be filed with Florida's Department of State in late January 1997.
Association membership will run from January 1 to December 31, except the first year, the membership year will run from October 1996 to December 31, 1997. Former staff, students and staff who pay alumni dues before December 31, 1997, will be charter members.
Alumni membership dues shall be $20 per year. Dues will be used to: publish and distribute a bi-annual newsletter; defray organizational expenses (filing fees, etc.); provide seed money for the next reunion; create a scholarship fund; and such other purposes as the interim organizing committee shall direct.
Application will be made to the State of Florida to become a Florida Non-profit Corporation before the end of January 1997. Thereafter, application will be made to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status. An interim organizing committee meeting will be held in Marianna during July 1997 to elect interim officers, adopt interim by-laws, appoint committee chairs, make plans for the next reunion, and conduct such other business as may come before the body. The meeting shall be open to all dues paying members of the GA-JCTS Alumni Association.
The Gilmore Academy-JCTS Alumni Association Organizing Committee
1931 1959 1966 1975
Maggie Pender Atwater Fletcher L Gibson Linda Darby Jones Raymonia Paramore
Marianna FL 32448 Plantation FL 33325 Marianna FL 32448 Robinson
Marianna FL 32447
1941 1950 Dovie White Lewis
Willia S Baker Arthur Graham Marianna FL 32448 1951
Tallahassee FL 32308 Marianna FL 32447 . Annie Barkley Roulbac
1974 . Marianna FL 32446
Johnnie J Datson 1963 Verna' Black Mack
St Petersburg FL Dorothy Adams Harley . Tallahassee FL 32308 Catherine Barkley Roulhac
1950 . 1949
Lucille J Bentley 1953 Elizabeth S MeElveen
Lithonia GA 30038 Bonzell Harrison Ft Washington MD 20744 1960
1964 Marianna FL 32448 Marianna FL 32446
Mattie B. Fagan Berrian 1961 Sheryl Johnson MeGriff
Miami FL 33167 Naomi Harrison Detroit Ml 48208 1961
Orlando FL 32818 Roy Lee Roulhac
1959 1963 Detroit MI 48208
Shirley Bronson 1970 Evelyn Gant Moore
Marianna FL 32447 Tonia Pope Hill Tampa FL 3361O 1967
Marianna FL 32446 Gloria Russ
1944. B Brown 1953 .Marianna FL 32448
Queen 1975 WillieHazel Rdlack Morris
Marianna, FL 32448 Gina Darby Highsmith Opa Locka FL 33054 1966
Marianna FL 32448 . . Patricia Speight
Elmore Bryant 1948 . Jacksonville FL 32208
Marianna FL 32448 Corine Holland Eldean S Nichols
Cottanweod AL Pensacola FL 32501 1959
1961 Waymon Speight
Elmer Roger Clay 1965 1957 . Freeport NY
Marianna FL 32446 Leroy Holland Sarah Speights Pender
Tallahassee FL Marianna Fl 32448 1959
1951 . . Tereather Boykins White
Eloise Cotman 1968 Curley Spires Porter Lakeland FL 33805
Newark NJ 07108 Vivian Holland Bronx NY 10473
Riviera Beach FL 33404 1969
1970 . Eddie L Porter Harvey Williams
Valaria Wallace Davies 1968 Newark NJ 07108 Marianna FL 32446
Marianna Fl. 32447 Catherine Johnson
Tallahassee FL 32308 1937 Lillie C. Williams
Marianna Fl, 32446
Linda 13 Franklin Roberta Ellis Pressley
Cottondale Fl. 32443 1962 Marianna FL 32448
Barbara Thompson Johnson Nellie Forrest Wilson
1965 Marianna FL 32446 Mary Alice B Reeves Marianna 11 32448
Amous Leon Gibson Tallahassee FL 32301
Food for Thought
The history of African Americans has been ignored, suppressed and distorted more than any other group. The 627-page book, Jackson County Florida - A History by Jerrell II. Shofner (1985), includes the following history of Gilmore Academy and Jackson County Training School:
R. T. Gilmore's academy was attended by most of the young blacks of Marianna in the 1920's and 1930s. It later became the Jackson County Training School. The Baptist College continued during the period and a few Marianna blacks started their education career at Cook's Institute at Two Egg. (p.468).
We must write our own history. GA-JCTS alumni can become advocates for the preservation of our own Jackson County heritage. We can correct the distortions and tell the true story of our experience in Jackson County.