Camptown School memorial plans coming together

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 9, 2007

CAMPTOWN—Four members of the community have conceptualized a way of honoring an old school and its teachers, while also providing green space in Isle of Wight County.

The Camptown Schools Committee, made up of Chairwoman Patricia Sowell, Ben Rideout and Von Boone-Randolph, all of Carrsville, and Gwendolyn Blue of Franklin, have been working for almost a year and a half to come up with plans for a new park that will be erected near where the old school building was located on Councill Road.

According to Sowell, who attended first through seventh grades at the school, the educational park will be located on a parcel donated by International Paper across from Franklin Equipment.

After having classes in various buildings thanks to the generosity of the community, Sowell said, &uot;The Rosenwald Foundation came in with a matching grant program. The Foundation granted $750. Isle of Wight County and the community also had to raise $750.&uot; Rosenwald provides matching funds for school rehabilitation projects, educational workshops and publications.

This first building, a two-room schoolhouse, was built around 1924 and was located to the left of Union Camp Drive that leads to what is now International Paper.

According to Sowell, the second school structure was located on Councill Road and was constructed circa 1945.

&uot;It closed in 1968 when integration (was implemented),&uot; she said.

The school served children from Camptown, Jamestown, Walters, Carrsville and Colosse. Boone-Randolph and Blue were in the same class as Sowell at the school.

&uot;We’ve had a couple of reunions since then,&uot; said Sowell. &uot;The first year, 300 people came. The second year, we had about 450 former students. We are a close-knit group.&uot;

The park will feature black granite markers with gold lettering, one of which will have a history of Camptown schools and the other, etchings of both schools and a list of principals and teachers who served at the schools. Bronze statues will also adorn the green space.

There will be two wall-type monuments, one that will hold the names of corporate donors and the other for student donors. For $100, a student’s name would be included on the monument.

&uot;We are also selling benches and spaces at the top of the walls around the park,&uot; Sowell said.

Benches, in honor or in memory of someone, can cost between $1,500 and $1,750, depending on the location, while names at the top of the wall may be etched for a donation of $350.

The committee is working on getting a leaflet printed that will include all the pertinent information.

&uot;We want to honor and thank the teachers, parents and community,&uot; Sowell said. &uot;You know they say it takes a village to raise a child, well, that’s exactly how it was. It took everyone.

&uot;Back then, our parents weren’t really educated, but our education was important to them.&uot;

She said about the park, &uot;It’s going to take awhile to raise the money and get it erected. It’s a big project.&uot;

The committee is inviting Southampton, Isle of Wight and Franklin officials, business owners and others to the Carrsville Community Center Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. for a private viewing and informational meeting of the Camptown Schools Park. Some International Paper officials are slated to attend.

According to Communications Manager Desmond Stills, the Camptown community and the Franklin Mill have a long-standing relationship as neighbors.

&uot;It was our pleasure to make this land donation to our nearest neighbors to help the community and the surrounding areas remember the grand legacy of the Camptown School,&uot; he said.

A model of the park, designed and built by Allen Seymour and Stanford Butler of Elberton, Ga., will be on display.

For more information, contact Sowell, 569-1084; Blue, 516-2969; Boone-Randolph, 556-1002; or Rideout, 562-3106.