Good food and good memories were shared by all last Thursday at the annual luncheon reunion of students and co-workers of the old Summerfield Elementary School.
“It’s really a close-knit group of people,” said Ruthella Rearden, who organizes the reunion. “Although the school is no longer in existence, we like to keep the memories alive. Most of us went in different directions. This helps us keep in touch.”
This is the sixteenth year the group has gotten together, she said. Usually they meet on the second Thursday in June. Nineteen friends attended this year’s event.
Summerfield School was once located on Old Edgefield Road. It closed in 1985 when the school consolidated with North Augusta Elementary. Third- through sixth-grade classes were held in the main building and kindergarten through second-grade classes were held in the annex. Part of the main building has since burned and the remainder has been torn down.
Former principal Hubert Turner told some of his favorite stories about the school. “The maintenance man was putting down tile in Shirley Holgate’s classroom,” he said. “For whatever reason – I don’t know why he was doing this during class time – but I heard screams coming from her room. ‘Mr. Turner,’ she was saying, ‘You have to do something! I can’t teach with this going on!’ So, I talked to the man and he agreed to come back later.”
Holgate, who taught English and social studies, said she was starting her second career when she came to Summerfield.
“They had just integrated shortly before,” she said. “There were new, challenging experiences. But they were good experiences. The faculty and staff were wonderful and the students loved Mr. Turner.”
Galan Potter taught kindergarten and first grade there. She said she liked the closeness of a small school.
“My favorite time of year was graduation,” she said. “No one had a lot of money so my aide (Nell Ishmael) made the caps and gowns and I painted the backdrops.”
Ishmael had her own story to tell: “I’ll never forget the time the kids were having ‘Show and Tell’ and a little boy handed me a bag and I pulled out a snake skin. I threw the bag up in the air and the kids all screamed with laughter.”
Kathy Gailey travels from Greenville, S.C., to the reunion to be with her former co-workers. She taught second grade from 1965 to 1969 at Summerfield and said she loved the people there.
Lisa Dixon, a student at Summerfield in 1974 and again from 1977 to 1979, was sitting near her.
“This was the first year I’ve been to the reunion, but it’s so nice,” she said. “I remember the years there as the best years of my life. I’ll definitely come back, and I’ll bring my sisters with me next time.”