November 18, 2017
Community
37° Mostly Cloudy
  • Sandy Dixon showed a Jones kindergarten class all of her school pictures and told the attentive 5-year-olds that many of her friends from elementary school are still her friends today.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    Sandy Dixon showed a Jones kindergarten class all of her school pictures and told the attentive 5-year-olds that many of her friends from elementary school are still her friends today.
  • Several former Jones Elementary teachers and students were invited to speak during a history day on October 18.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    Several former Jones Elementary teachers and students were invited to speak during a history day on October 18.
  • “My father and grandfather always stressed education and told us that education was powerful,” said Mary Coates, a former kindergarten teacher at Jones Elementary.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    “My father and grandfather always stressed education and told us that education was powerful,” said Mary Coates, a former kindergarten teacher at Jones Elementary.
  • During a weeklong 60th anniversary celebration in October, the Jones Elementary auditorium was filled with displays of artifacts, a running slideshow and numerous photo albums.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    During a weeklong 60th anniversary celebration in October, the Jones Elementary auditorium was filled with displays of artifacts, a running slideshow and numerous photo albums.

Jones Elementary Celebrates 60 Years Of Excellence

Judy Tacyn
Judy Tacyn's picture
View Bio
November 3, 2017

It was standing room only as more than 500 former and current students, teachers, parents, friends and community members packed the Jones Elementary School auditorium for the school’s 60th anniversary celebration on Saturday, October 21. The spirited event was the culmination of a joyous week celebrating the history of the elementary school and the 60th anniversary of the building on Hoyle Lane in the Jones Station section of Severna Park.

The History Of “Jones”

Officially named “Jones” in 1885, the first area school was founded in 1871 as a learning space for African-American students. Initially located on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, it subsequently moved several times to accommodate increased enrollment. The building in its current location, at 122 Hoyle Lane, was built in 1957 on land sold to Anne Arundel County by community members Gladys Pack Palmer, Clara Pack Brown, and Arthur and Alexander White. Each member of this extended family donated a portion of their own land in order to establish one consolidated property to be used exclusively for the development of a new, larger Jones Elementary School.

In 1954, Thurgood Marshall won unanimous support for school desegregation from the Supreme Court in the Brown versus the Board of Education decision. In 1966, Jones was fully integrated, welcoming both white and black students. In 1981, the local Board of Education proposed a bid to close the tiny school. A vocal community outcry from a citizen’s group led by Paul Spiecker resulted in the agreement that Jones would stay open.

In the mid-1990s, Jones Elementary School went through a physical renovation and redistricting. Jones students moved in with Oak Hill Elementary School for a year and a half, returning in January 1999, with a new principal, to an enlarged state-of-the-art school that included a computer lab, media center and art room. The redistricted community of Manhattan Beach moved to Jones in September 1999.

Paying Homage To The Past

To celebrate the school’s storied history, the school hosted a Jones History Day on Wednesday, October 18. Invited to speak to students were former teacher Edith Magruder; former Jones parent and school nurse Sylvia Nolan; former student Theodore White; former student and teacher Mary Coates; former student Barry White; former student and teacher Theresa Williams; former student Faye Johnson Offett; former music teacher James Williams; former teacher Betty Turner; and former student Sandra Dixon.

Betty Turner — a member of the event planning committee — was a teacher at Jones from 1962 to 1966. She said she appreciated working with the committee because there were so many connections (former students and teachers, current acquaintances and multi-generational Jones families). She noted that it was especially gratifying to have worked with several descendants of the White family.

“On Wednesday, the students and teachers were welcoming, presented thoughtful questions, and listened well,” said Turner. “The speakers were excited and all happy to have been involved. On Saturday, I was thrilled to see [longtime teacher] Willie [Thomas], two additional former teachers, at least five former students. There were lots of hugs; a truly memorable experience!”

Sandy Dixon showed a Jones kindergarten class all of her school pictures and told the attentive 5-year-olds that many of her friends from elementary school are still her friends today. She said it was during her time at Jones Elementary School that she learned to love math, and she also mentioned that she uses her knowledge as a mortgage processor at a bank to help the children’s parents buy their homes.

Edith Magruder lauded the organization of the event. “I was paired the Theodore White, who happened to be in my fifth-grade [class] when I started at Jones in 1964,” said Magruder, a former Jones teacher. “Questions from students covered a wide variety of topics. Hands were raised before we completed introducing ourselves, and we had to end each class with hands still raised. The questions were not repetitive and came rapidly, crisscrossing the class. [The kids were] quite energetic.”

Barry White, a grandson of Arthur White, one of the original landowners, said he was peppered with questions. “They were quick and they had them ready!” said White. “It was fun to explain to the children how one of their classmates was actually my cousin.”

He said that coming back to Jones was an experience he will never forget and that he was proud to see what his grandfather’s donation had become. “As [Arthur White’s] descendants, I think we do stick our chests out a little bit,” said Barry White. “This is really a great feeling.”

Sylvia Nolan volunteered at Jones as a health assistant in 1957 and later became the PTA president when her children entered Jones.

“The kids wanted to know all about what it was like when school was just a two-room building,” said Sylvia. “I told them about our wooden desks, outside toilet and wood-burning stove. Grades one through three were in one room, and grades four through six were in the other room.”

James Williams told a third-grade class that he came to Jones Elementary School as a music teacher after he left the military in the late 1950s.

“I came from Baltimore City, and when I got to Jones, I thought, ‘Ah! What a beautiful place!’” explained James. “There were only seven rooms for six grades when I taught at this school, but we all had lots of fun while we learned.”

Mary Coates was both a student and a kindergarten teacher at Jones Elementary (she also later served as a teacher at Folger McKinsey Elementary School). When Coates was asked what kind of games she played when she was a student, the fourth-grade students were tickled to learn that she had played dodgeball as a child at Jones, which is a student favorite today.

“When I was asked to speak to the children, I thought, ‘Now what are we going to have in common to talk about?’” she asked. Coates, who is the daughter of Alexander White and granddaughter of Arthur White, said she wrote a lot of notes in preparation of her trip to Jones.

“I didn’t even pull out my write up at all!” said Coates. “The kids were so prepared and the conversations were very relaxing. My father and grandfather always stressed education and told us that education was powerful. I think they would be so proud to know that these kids at Jones are very smart and prepared.”

Faye Johnson Offett, a great-granddaughter of Arthur White, was a student at Jones in 1966, the year the school was integrated. She had not been back to Jones since she graduated.

“Oh my, that school is gorgeous!” said Faye. “The technology is amazing with a dedicated computer lab and a beautiful library. And those Smart Boards!”

When Faye was speaking to a second-grade class, one student politely said, “You know, if your grandpa didn’t do that, there wouldn’t be a Jones Elementary School.”

“I was really struck by that child,” said Faye. “I think my grandfather would be truly amazed to see that his small investment [of land] continues to enhance the lives of all kids who come to Jones.”

Theresa Williams is Faye Johnson Offett’s sister and another great-granddaughter of Arthur White. Not only was she a student and then a teacher at Jones, Theresa went on to be an assistant principal and principal at other Anne Arundel County public schools. Her grand-nephew is a kindergarten student at Jones Elementary School today.

“I was absolutely delighted and honored to speak to the children,” said Theresa. “There was such a feeling of warmth and excitement; I loved it! The children were very attentive and asked very good questions.”

Theodore White, also a descendant of Arthur White, still lives in Jones Station, and his grandchildren attend Jones today.

“We are all just so proud that this celebration came about,” said Theodore. “It’s just amazing that we can all come together today and look back. Our family and all of the families of the children who attend Jones Elementary have always been close-knit, despite what might be going on in the world.”

The reunion held on Saturday, October 21, included a rousing opening performance by the men’s choir from Wayman Good Hope Church, followed by a video of interviews of former students and teachers, and then a performance by the Jones Elementary chorus and orchestra. Throughout the auditorium were displays of artifacts, a running slideshow and numerous photo albums. Outside, there were games from the ‘50s and face painting. There also was a rock painting station to allow participants to contribute to a school rock garden to commemorate their connection to Jones.

In attendance was Willie Thomas, a fourth-grade teacher at Jones from 1966 to 1988. To celebrate her 89th birthday, several former students made surprise speeches and presented her with a large arrangement of red roses.

Laurie Dennis was just one of the many present and past Jones parents in attendance. “I knew Jones was a special place the moment my oldest son started here in 2006. Since I did not grow up in this area, I did not know all of the details and history surrounding Jones Elementary,” said Laurie.

“I feel fortunate that all three of my boys were able to go to this fabulous school. The friends they made here will be friends for life!” she continued. “It was great to see so many former teachers and students and parents gathering together to share stories and reminisce about their days at Jones.”

Patricia Keffer is in her fifth year as principal of Jones Elementary School. The pride she feels for Jones was on full display all week.

“Jones is special because of the community. The community of students is respectful, kind and eager to learn,” she said. “Our community of teachers is compassionate, dedicated and willing to do whatever is needed to advance all students. The Jones community is supportive and encouraging as we all work together to ensure the best education for all students. The Jones community makes Jones special!”

 

Jones Elementary School has been part of the American story for more than a century. Its history reflects both the changing laws of its country and the constant dedication of its community. Sometime after the Annapolis Short Line came through the farmland surrounding Peter Jones’ store (near the current park and ride on Jones Station Road) in 1871, Jones opened as one of Anne Arundel County’s first schools for African-American children. It would remain an African-American school for nearly 100 years.


Sidebar Ad

Faces of the Voice

  • Dianna Lancione
    Publisher
    parkiewoman
  • Larry Sells
    Vice President, Sales and Development
    @LarrySells1
    @LarrySells1
    @LarrySells1
  • Colin Murphy
    Sports Editor
    @ArVoiceSports / @ColinAJMurphy
    @SPVoiceSports / @ColinAJMurphy
    @PVoiceSports / @ColinAJMurphy
  • William Nauman
    Creative Director
  • Zach Sparks
    Assistant Editor
    @Sparks907
    @Sparks907
    @Sparks907
  • Lonnie Lancione
    Publisher
  • Brian Lancione
    V.P., Operations
  • Dylan Roche
    Editor
    @dylroche
    @dylroche
    @dylroche

Latest Tweets

  • SPVoice

    RT @SPVoiceSports: Read up on your Severna Park cross country teams and be sure to see full spread w/ additional photos in the December @SP…
  • SPVoice

    RT @SPVoiceSports: Severna Park boys cross country runners are 4A Maryland champions; SP's girls take second as a team in an all-around out…
  • SPVoice

    RT @SPVoiceSports: Wednesday was a proud day for these college-bound Severna Park student-athletes: severnaparkvoice.com/sports/signing… | @SPVoice @ann…

Events Calendar

Request an Advertising Quote

Please do not add dashes. (ex: 4106479400)
Do not enter anything here.
Search Articles
Search Authors
Search Blog