Calhoun County Training School alumni look back on school’s legacy

CCTS Reunion

A nice crowd was on hand during the 17th CCTS reunion breakfast at the Anniston City Meeting Center. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

For Georgia Calhoun, Calhoun County Training School wasn’t just a school. It was a home away from home.

Calhoun County Training School, in the heart of Hobson City, was the county’s only school for many of the area’s African-American students. The school was paired with Oxford’s public school system in 1972 as integration was slowly implemented in the area, but alumni weren’t about to let memories go dormant — they gather on their old turf every two years for a reunion.

This year was their 17th such meeting. It included a breakfast at the Anniston City Meeting Center on Thursday morning where alumni chatted, laughed and spoke about the importance of the school’s history. 

“People need to come together for these kinds of activities,” said Calhoun, who graduated in 1948. “What’s happening now is we don’t know each other and people need to have more fellowship, and this is a thing where everybody’s enjoying themselves.”

Also in attendance at the breakfast was state Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, who taught French and English at the training school for seven years. 

“We have to continue to challenge and remember. If we don’t remember the past, then we’ll be doomed to repeat it,” Boyd said. “Events like this remind us of our history with hopes that we will improve upon them in the future.” 

Jackie Watley, from the class of 1965, said he remembers the training school being a place where students could meet contemporaries from all over the county. 

“It’s important so we don’t lose track of who we are and what we see in the community and what we brought to the community and the community brings back to us for the young kids and families.” 

Hobson City Mayor Alberta McCrory spoke at the event about her plans to preserve the history of Hobson City through the creation of a museum chronicling the history of town as told by its residents. She asked the alumni in attendance to consider sharing their stories with the city.  

“We need to control our story,” McCrory said. “We need to tell our story. It’s not enough to say we overcame. Tell them. Spell it out for those who are coming behind us.” 

Pearlene Harris, from the class of 1964, said she looks forward to the reunions and seeing classmates she remembers and community members she knows. 

“It’s like a big family,” Harris said. “Every two years we get together, we mingle, we eat, we cry, we laugh and we just have a good time.” 

The breakfast also included a memorial for alumni who had died since the last reunion. Harris said this past year has seen the loss of two members of her class. 

“I just look forward to seeing the ones that are here,” she said. “We buried two classmates this year ... but we’re still here.”