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Monday, July 2, 2007

2007 DOUGLASS REUNION: Alumni Memorial Service




After attending the churches of our choice on Sunday, July 1st, it was time to gather for the most solemn of commemorations.. the 2007 Douglass Alumni Association Memorial Service.
The event was held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, with the dignity and respect the largest former African-American High School in Upper East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Southeast Kentucky deserves.. that is our Douglass High School, Kingsport, Tennessee.
In the spirit of tradition African gatherings, Gilbert Pride brought the proceedings to order with the sounding of the Shofar. The shofar is an instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal. It was used in ancient Israel to announce the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh) and to call people together. It was also blown on Rosh Hashanah, signifying both the need to wake up to the call to repentance, and the Binding of Isaac (Genesis, chapter 22) in which Abraham sacrifices a ram in place of his son, Isaac.
Today, it is considered a commandment to hear the shofar blown, which Mr. Pride did with great dignity and honor.
Mistress of Ceremonies Linda Bly introduced the Memorial Service proceedings, that begun with a song from our Douglass Alumni chorus, and a soul-stirring prayer by Vicki Wood Smith. Ed Horton read from the Holy Scriptures, and Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips spoke to the congregation about the wonderful community service done by our Alumni Association. Mary Kathy Pride performed an emotional spiritual dance that moved some of the congregation to tears.
Virginia Hankins introduced our guest speaker, Mary Lee Bond Irvin, whose timeless memories of Douglass teachers and studies both humored and inspired the congregation. Mrs. Irvin encouraged the group to remember the life lessons taught by our Douglass teachers, inspiring us to continue being true "Sons And Daughters Of Douglass" by passing on what we have learned to the younger generations.
Our Douglass High School Alumni Scholarships were awarded to Terrance Maxwell, who plans to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.. Patrick Leeper, enrolling at East Tennessee State University this fall.. and Courtney Wolfe, who will attend the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga this fall. Each wrote an essay to qualify for the academic scholarship, which pays 500 dollars to each student for their financial obligations. We are so very proud of our students furthering their education.
Alumni Association Vice President Andra Watterson lit the single candle in one special moment, that honors the memory of our fellow Alumni who have passed since our last Reunion. The single candle pay homage to the fire of their spirit that will never go out.
And of course, the highlight that brought the congregation to its feet and the Memorial Service to a close, was the singing of our Douglass High School Song, written in 1931 by Douglass Teacher Bessie French. The rousing cheer afterward could be heard blocks away, and brought the 2007 Reunion to its all-too-quick conclusion.