Alumni continue to renovate old school - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Alumni continue to renovate old school

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December 12, 2004

Newton- Graduates and former teachers from what used to be East Baker Elementary and High School have spent the past three years restoring their alma mater, but with no budget the organization is finding it difficult to keep up the work.

Reverend Earl Hallmon and his family have made a tradition out of performing for the annual fundraising banquet hosted by the East Baker Historical and 21st Century Community Corporation.

"The bible says train up the child in the way he should go," he says.

And the East Baker group is hoping to provide that training at their old alma mater. When several graduates heard the old East Baker Elementary and High School might be torn down, they decided to save it and turn it into a community resource center.

"We have not had outside money to do this. We hope to one day be able to gather the grants that we need really operate full time, 24 hours a day if that's needed," says CEO Shirley Sherrod.

Right now they offer piano and quilting classes, as well as tutoring for high school exit exams, but the organization wants to expand that list of offerings and even turn one portion of the former "separate but equal" school building into a mini museum.

"We're actually getting the history of especially Black residents of Baker County put here in this building so that it will be here for young people year and years and years to come," Sherrod explains.

But, funds get tighter and tighter with each classroom renovation.

"We're fixing them as we have money and as we have time to work on them, but people can pledge to renovate a room," says Sherrod.

Determined not to let their dream die, the alumni and teachers say they'll continue their work in hopes that others will follow their lead.

Congressman Sanford Bishop told the group they may be eligible for some federal funding to make necessary renovations to the building.

Posted at 5:15 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com