Letters to The Editor – December 20th, 2017

Published 8:17 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2017

An integrated high school

Editor, Smithfield Times
I hate to dispute a dispute, but it is against my nature to let misinformation stand uncorrected. Contrary to Melvin Clarke’s assertion that the Smithfield High School Class of 1971 was the first fully integrated class, it was the class of 1970 that graduated as the first fully integrated class.
The community was informed in the summer of 1969 that Smithfield High School and Westside High School would be consolidated into one high school, retaining the name Smithfield High School. Isle of Wight County schools were the first in our athletic division to be fully integrated. Students from Westside High School began attending SHS on the Tuesday following Labor Day of 1969. I was a sophomore that year.
Despite the anxiety of adults, no serious problems materialized other than some overcrowding of the cafeteria, gym and locker rooms. Students, black and white, attended classes and participated in sports together with few, if any, issues.
SHS fielded one of its best football teams that fall, scoring a total of 408 points while holding our opponents to 68 points! The Packers, led by quarterback Leroy Denson, were unbeatable in football in the fall of 1969. Our first Black Homecoming Queen was Yvette Jefferson, who was also the secretary of the senior class.
While Melvin Clarke was the first Black president of a senior class, the first Black class president was Larry Pleasants. Larry was president of the sophomore class in 1969-70. My own class, the class of 1972, doubled in size as a result of the consolidation of high schools. The class grew from about 70 students to approximately 140 students. With a very few exceptions, we all learned to get along.
My high schools years were an important and memorable time of my life. I learned a great deal and grew as person as a result of being a part of the social movement called “desegregation.”
Colette Jones Schupner

Parting words

Editor, Smithfield Times
It has been an extraordinary journey.
Six years ago I went from a world of peanuts, cotton, corn and cattle, a world of dust and dirt, of azure skies and sunsets, to a world of suits and ties and Roberts Rules of Order; a world of deadlines, ribbon cuttings, phone calls and emails; a world of human resources and budgetary line items; of public safety, public education and emergency services.
It has been a world of agonizing over decisions, often long past the sound of the closing gavel.
But most especially, and most richly and most rewarding, this has been a world of relationships. From former Board members, county staff, county administrators, department heads, constitutional officers, volunteers, citizens from Carrsville to Carrollton, Zuni to Rushmere; Mayors and Chairs throughout Hampton Roads, I have had the privilege of interacting, debating, arguing, agreeing with, speaking before and listening to such an array of human beings that would never have been possible apart from this role. For that, I shall ever be indebted to you all.
I readily admit my shortcomings over these past years. I often spoke when the situation would have been better served keeping silent, and conversely kept silent when the spoken word was needed. I have not always cast the right vote. For these indiscretions, and many more, I ask your forgiveness.
To my fellow board members, what a joy. We have enjoyed a working relationship not commonly found among boards. You are each uniquely gifted. I am fully confident the decisions you make going forward, as Mr. Rosie joins you, will serve our citizens well.
I believe Isle of Wight stands in a great position and is on an excellent trajectory. This county has much to offer with unbounded potential. I encourage you all to take advantage of what we have. By that I mean to pursue, in the particular arena God has placed you, what is good and true and beautiful. We are all called to foster human flourishing wherever it may be found and to create such richness of life that draws individuals into that for which we were made.
Thank you for all you’ve given me.
Rex Alphin
IW Board of Supervisors

More 1632 evidence?

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Editor, Smithfield Times
I have stumbled on new evidence that our present St. Luke’s Church was built circa 1632. The church property was transferred to its vestry in 16 83. In its deed, dissenter Michael Fulgham says “do give … unto the said vestry … one Acre of Land … before names Warrens burg …”
In the 1600s, the word “burg” meant “an ancient or medieval fortress,” or a “large and permanent fortification,” or “a fortified royal hall,” all of which could apply to our present Old St. Luke’s Church in the 1630s.
Local settlers were constantly at war with the Indians from 1622 to 1644. By law, they were required to palisade dwelling houses and church houses, bring arms to church, and drill on holy days. The present Old St. Luke’s foreboding size and tower and 1630s circumstances make fortress and fortification appropriate appellations for a 1630s existence.
Certainly the word “burg” or fortress would not apply to the assumptions of the advocates of a 1 682 church date. These advocates believe no large church could have been built circa 1630s, but much later. They believe that St. Luke’s was built in 1682 but was proceeded by a circa 16 32 forerunner church, wood framed or small brick like the Robert Pitt 1643 dwelling house (500 square feet). Neither such constructions would ever be called a fortress, fortification or “burg” at any time.
The simplest assumption is this “burg,” massive fortification, was the present St. Luke’s Church, not a massive predecessor to St. Luke’s Church. By using the single “burg,” Michael Fulgham is giving us our first picture of an earlier and now present Old St. Luke’s Church circa 1632. We just didn’t know what the word meant.
The 1630s church may have had crude or no furnishings, no third story for its tower, no quoins, no corner ornamentations, different windows, but was substantially in general outline what we see today.
Thomas Finderson

Castle kudos

Editor, Smithfield Times
The progress of the Windsor Castle restoration effort was insightfully captured by Ms. McFarland’s feature in the Dec. 13 edition. In the walk-about of the site, I highlighted Mr. Roger Ealy’s unique and invaluable experience acquired in decades of restoring historic buildings and that was vividly related in the feature.
I was remiss, though, in not underscoring two other key contributors to the progress to date and the momentum into the next phases of the project. Mr. Ealy’s expert guidance is matched by David Boyd and his crew of craftsmen. They have taken on the unique challenges of restoration with admirable skill. “Rework” is not in Mr. Boyd’s vernacular; it’s done to specification the first time.
Complementing Mr. Ealy’s and Mr. Boyd’s expertise is the leadership and pro bono consulting of Mayor Carter Williams. He is on site every day meeting with Mr. Ealy and Mr. Boyd, ensuring sub-contractors are engaged and obstacles to progress cleared. It falls to Mayor Williams, as construction consultant, to weigh the variables and priorities, propose a path forward to the oversight committee and ensure timely execution. It is Mayor Williams who set the strategy that is bringing this project in on time and below estimated costs.   The Town is benefiting hugely from the time, energy and expertise its mayor has invested in this project. The crown jewel of Windsor Castle Park is being rehabilitated by a strong leader complemented by the skills of two master craftsmen. It’s a commendable team effort.
Rick Bodson
Historic Windsor Castle Restoration, LLC