Saturday, January 27, 2007

Little Rock Senior High School - 1927

This is one spectacular school building, as much as it is also one spectacular school. Selected by Newsweek as #20 on it's 2006 list of the Nation's Best High Schools, Little Rock Central High School has supplanted it's previous claim in history.

When construction was complete in 1927 at a cost of over $1.5 million, it was hailed as the country's most elaborate and significant public school building. It was also the country's largest. The school's football field, Quigley Stadium, was also the first home to the Arkansas Razorback football games held away from it's home campus of Fayetteville. Razorback games in Little Rock are now held in War Memorial Stadium, built after WWII.

Lois (Rollins) Reid, now deceased, was a member of the school's first graduating class. She was the grandmother and guardian of my old and dear friend, Daphne. As a teen, I recalled her vivid recollections of growing up in 1920's Little Rock, and attending school here. In fact, once she finished high school, she continued on here in the newly organized Little Rock Junior College, which soon after established a permanent campus elsewhere in town. (LRJC later became Little Rock University upon attaining a 4-year curriculum, and was again renamed when becoming a part of the University of Arkansas system, as UALR). Mrs. Reid, or less formally, 'Grandmother'-as all of Daphne's friends referred to her, fondly recalled the easy and fun life in those times, and how her older sister Hazel (Rollins) Rowe, was the first young lady in Little Rock to bob her hair. It was 'scandalous'!...well, at least for those times.

My Mother's youngest sister, Glenda, attended school here one year before the desegregation crisis of 1957-58. All three of her older sisters had moved to Little Rock, and she missed them so dearly that my grandparents agreed for her to move-in with one of them and attend high school there. Although she did return to her parents' home in the north-central part of the state by the end of the school year, she fondly recalls her good memories of Central High, noting that on the first day of school, she was recognized as a 'new girl' by a group of boys, even though the enrollment of the school was quite large.

My nephew, Parker, is currently a member of the Junior Class here. Next year, he will be part of the school's 80th Commencement ceremonies. I look forward to sitting in Quigley Stadium next year to see him recieve his diploma. I cannot believe he is almost grown.

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