Terrell School Marker Dedicated
BY LYNETTE GEORGE
Friday, November 22, 2002
Voices joined and strengthened as Terrell School alumni stood in Thursday's warm sun and sang their school song. Old friends, classmates and co-workers shook hands, hugged and shared their memories.
The gathering was to dedicate a permanent marker on the site where Denison's Terrell School originally stood on Martin Luther King Boulevard. The marker, constructed of brick from the original Terrell School building, notes the school's years of service to Denison's black community and lists the school's three principals.
From 1927 until 1968, Terrell served as a place of quality education for Denison's black community. Many Terrell graduates returned to the school after college to continue the tradition of teaching excellence the school was known for. Several were among honored guests at Thursday's ceremony.
Cora Lee Bell graduated from Terrell in 1941 and later served as a teacher there for 32 years. She said the marker dedication brought mixed emotions.
"I can't say whether this is a joyous occasion or not," Bell said. "I stand here and I can almost hear us singing 'We love the halls of Terrell,' and our school song. I guess the best way to explain the feeling I have is that this is closure."
Bell, like many others attending the ceremony, said Terrell was a special school for her as a student and as a teacher. "We were such a close-knit group and there were so many activities."
Another former student who later became a Terrell teacher was coach Thomas Wrenn. He proudly displayed his 1940 senior class T-shirt which he said he keeps safe in a chest. He noted some differences in the teacher-student-parent relationships at Terrell versus modern schools.
"Teachers were as much parents as we were teachers," Wrenn said. "We wiped students noses, paddled or did whatever was needed. And we didn't just teach school subjects, but spiritual knowledge too. Not necessarily specific religions, but a belief that there is a supreme being and without it, there's nothing.
"Everybody knew everybody and it really made a difference. All the parents knew all the kids. You couldn't walk down the street and do something without someone seeing you and telling your parents."
Denison School Board Member Frances Cameron, a Terrell graduate, gave the crowd a brief history of the longtime school. Serving as Terrell's first principal in 1936 was W.R. Wims who was principal of Anderson School. Anderson's elementary classes moved to the Terrell campus. In 1939, M.S. Frazier was named principal of the combined schools and the faculty consisted of Frazier and 15 teachers. There were 500 students, many of whom went on to serve in the armed forces during World War II and the Korean conflict.
Terrell continued to expand, adding a cosmetology lab in 1948, a cafetorium in 1949, and a gymnasium and four more classrooms in 1953.
In 1954, E.T. Hardeman became Terrell principal. At that time, there were 20 teachers and 372 students. Hardeman remained the school's leader until its closing in 1968.
Terrell was later turned into a middle school, serving sixth, seventh and eighth graders. A few years back, the building was taken down and a new Terrell Elementary School was built next door to the original site.
Cameron commended former Terrell teachers for their dedication, motivation and persistence. "They had undeniable work ethics in school and in the community. They had a strong faith in God and were ideal role models. But it takes years of maturing to appreciate and recognize their outstanding qualities."
From Terrell's alma mater, Cameron quoted, "Thou art more than a name. Thou art more than cold stone. Thou art spirit and beauty and light. And the standards we raised in the years 'neath thy dome are the standards for which we shall fight."
Cameron closed with a saying often spoken by Principal Frazier, "And this you can do. If you will strive always to treat others better than they treat you."
Included among special guests were alumni Drewey and Jewel McKnight, Wrenn, Bell, Gwen Alexander, Alpha Jordan and Louise Hogan.
Welcoming the group was DISD Superintendent Henry Scott. The Rev. Michael Braxton gave the invocation, DISD board president Jay Watkins led in the unveiling of the monument, and current Terrell Elementary School principal, Greg Roman, invited attendees to tour the new school.
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