In 1940, Rosetta Coleman took the bus from her home in Jones to her high school in Luther. Three years later she graduated from the “school on the big red hill,” Luther’s Booker T Washington High School. This past Saturday night, Ms. Coleman spryly took the stage at the Washington School Reunion at Luther’s Community Center.
At 93 years old, Coleman recalled participating in the Glee Club, and attending the dances. “We learned to dance, nice clean dancing,” she assured. “We did the jitterbug and wore our broomstick floursack skirts,” she said. After her graduation in 1943, she attended Langston University and went on to a successful 42-year career at Tinker Air Force Base.
“Luther has a lot to offer and I’ll never forget the good times. I appreciate the school on the hill that has brought me thus far.”
Ms. Coleman’s speech was just one of the highlights of the evening that was filled with nostalgia, entertainment and friendship. The Washington Club meets every other year for a reunion. This year’s event was organized by Ron Henry, president, and Marcellus Fields, vice president. Thy attended Washington School as children but graduated from LHS, Henry in 1968, and Fields in 1971. “Our vision for the future expands to retain our heritage, reclaim membership and keep the dream alive,” Henry said.
About 60 supporters of Washington school attended the event. They were entertained by the “Praise Sisters” and given a souvenir booklet that recounted the days of Washington school and was full of advertising from area businesses who supported the event. In the days of school desegregation, Washington was the only school in the area so students came from miles around. In 1918, schools that were consolidated with Washington were Victory (Hogg), five miles north-east of Luther; Excelsior (Croslin) about 2.5 miles north-west of Luther and Douglas (District B), South of Luther. Later other schools were annexed including Kickapoo, Parker, Clayton, Fairview and Dulan.
“Busses used during this period were covered wagons. On the first day, everybody was dressed up and many patrons and friends came to witness the opening of the Consolidated School, Washington High School. Enrollment was between 159 – 175 students,” according to notes about the school’s opening in 1916.
The original Washington school burned over Christmas break in 1930, but a new building was constructed that served the students until segregation brought the Luther high school students together in the 1950s. The school gym and shop were used for several more years, but eventually the school fell into disrepair and was torn down in the 1980s. The school site is a park now, and has one remaining structure, a building owned by he Town, and utilized by Armstrong Headstart.
The souvenir booklet was supported by several advertisers: Bancfirst, Allen K Booher, CPA, INC., Holman Construction Co, “His Word” by Juan and The Perfect Singers, 14 song CD, Juan Hester, 277-7793, Great Plains Veterinary Services, Sonic Store #5285 Luther, Rolfe Funeral Home, Inc., Oklahoma City, Riverside Gardens Cemetery, Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church, Integris, Bennett Fertility Institute, Dr. David Kellenberger, MitchFord Construction, Josephine’s Cafe and Pidcock Family, Luther Hardware & LUnber, Apple Creek Learning Center, Luther Insurance Agency, Courtney Insurance Solutions, Arcadia, Arcadia Tag & Title, Rustic Farm, Luther Register, Urban Sity-Six, Salem Baptist Church, Sasscon Inc. in Arcadia, Pollard Funeral Home, Oklahoma City and Guthrie, Black’s Flower Shop in Oklahoma City, Farmers Insurance, Neriss K Berry, CSD, Oklahoma City, and Luther Car Wash.