February 8, 2011 10:10:00 AM
How does the oldest public school in the state celebrate 190 years of educating children? With birthday cake.
Franklin Academy turns 190 this year, and alumni, past teachers and administrators and community members are invited to celebrate the landmark.
Thursday at 9:30 a.m., the Franklin Elementary Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School will kick off the festivities with a reading of the school''s history. The school''s music classes will sing choral songs performed when the current building was dedicated in the 1930s. The original school building was built in 1821. A new building was built at the current site in 1886. The current Franklin building was built during the late 1930s, replacing the 1886 facility.
School memorabilia, including scrapbooks, photos and newspaper clippings, will be on display for the event.
"We''re inviting past students and staff and principals and anyone who was involved with our school to the history (program)," said Patricia Overstreet, principal at the school.
Union Academy, the community''s all-black school, was established in 1877 as a branch of Franklin. In 1903 Union Academy was relocated from south Columbus to north Columbus.
When President William Howard Taft visited Columbus in 1909, he was greeted by students at Franklin and presented with flowers and a flag.
Franklin school stood during the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and it continues to thrive.
"I don''t think people realize that," Overstreet said.
She hopes the program will shed light on the important history of the school.
"I just hope that people will realize the significance of Franklin being the first public school in Mississippi and look back at the number of children who have been educated over the past 190 years," Overstreet said. "We hope they will remember and reflect on good times they had at Franklin," Overstreet said.
For the hundreds of students who attend Franklin, the program will serve as an education on the rich history of their school.
"There''s a lot of history in this building," Overstreet said. "And it''s a good day to let the kids know they are a part of that."
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