Superintendent Grant Rivera gave former Marietta Councilman Anthony Coleman and George Miller a sneak peek of the renovations underway at their old elementary school Friday, which both men attended during the days of segregation.
Miller attended Lemon Street Elementary School in the early 1950s and Coleman in the early 1960s.
“We had students here from Kennesaw, from Acworth, from Smyrna, from Powder Springs, Austell,” Miller said.
Coleman, who lived in an apartment complex where the Marietta Police Department is now, recalled walking down the sidewalk to the school every morning.
“I remember at this particular school how passionate the teachers were about teaching and about us learning and getting a quality education,” Coleman said, mentioning his history teacher, Harvey Maxwell.
“I’ll tell you, he was a disciplinarian too. He didn’t play. Those teachers back in the day, they came to your house to talk to your parents. He’d walk down here to where we live to talk to my parents about what I needed to be improving in. If I was acting up and carrying on in school or whatever,” Coleman said.
Miller said after completing grades 1-5 at the elementary school, there used to be a building in the back where he attended grades 6-8. He then headed across the street where the segregated Lemon Street High School building used to be.
“I feel I got an A-1 education,” said Miller, a retired postmaster who lives in Marietta.
The first Black students to attend the all-white Marietta High School from Lemon Street were Daphne Delk and Treville Grady in August of 1964.
Reflecting on this time in elementary school, Coleman said, “The first thing we did in the morning at the school was the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. No. 2 was roll call. No. 3 was we had prayer.”
Rivera said the elementary school had different uses over the years after integration. When he arrived in 2017, it was used as storage for maintenance and for old files.
His second day on the job as superintendent, Rivera said someone came to meet him wanting to know if he would sell the property so they could build a townhome development.
“I didn’t know much on my second day as superintendent, but what I knew was we weren’t going to be tearing down a building that really had a whole lot of history and a whole lot of heart to it,” Rivera said.
At that point, he began to learn more about the history of the building. He was initially told it couldn’t be saved. A second and third opinion said it could be. So the district opted to renovate and furnish the building for a cost of $3.7 million. The plan is to open it to students in spring semester.
Across the street is the Performance Learning Center, a supplement for Marietta High School students, where they can take both in person and online classes. The PLC building also has an alternative program for students who are suspended. Those 100 to 150 students will move into the renovated Lemon Street Elementary building beginning in February.
“We’ll have some type of event for the community when we feel like it’s safe to do such,” Rivera said.
Rivera said the long-term plan was to build a replica of the former Lemon Street High School building on the grassy field where it once stood, using that building as a new central office. But the pandemic threw a wrench in those plans, and at the moment, the district is watching its revenues before embarking on that next project.
Following the tour of his old elementary school, Miller said, “It’s like having flashbacks. Good flashbacks. We actually had good times here.”
He said his grandchildren already know about the building but he plans to bring them to see it once it’s been renovated.
Coleman called it a blessing his old elementary school wasn’t bulldozed and turned into another townhome development.
“I just feel God would have this history be here for future generations that we can share with my grandkids, my son, tell them this is where we went to elementary school, this is way before your time, how things were back then, and have a conservation about it.”
Rivera said he looks forward to bringing his own daughters to tour the building once it’s finished.
“There will be historical panels on the walls, stories and a way in which we honor everyone who’s been through this building before. It will be something I’ll be really proud of because I don’t think there are many opportunities for us to tell a story like Lemon Street to future generations. That history cannot be lost, and when I think of all the things the legacy of what I want my daughters to remember is this community cared enough about the generations before it to tell that story, and that’s something that as a life lesson will go so far beyond just a textbook.”
SPEAKER CIRCUIT: The Kiwanis Club of Marietta has a strong lineup of guest speakers for the club’s next Thursday luncheons:
Dr. Michael Andrews, director of oncology at WellStar Health Systems, will be Nov. 19.
Cobb County’s own Vic Reynolds, former local district attorney before Gov. Brian Kemp tapped him to be director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, will be Dec. 3.
And on Dec. 10, speaker will be Watson Bryant, attorney for Richard Jewell in the 1996 Olympic bombings case. The Jewell case has received renewed scrutiny due to the Clint Eastwood produced and directed movie “Richard Jewell.” Actor Sam Rockwell played Bryant in the 2019 biographical drama film.
POLITICAL PLATTER: The Cobb County Republican Women’s Club will have their last monthly meeting for the year Nov. 20, featuring Phil Kent on “The Future of the Republican Party in Georgia.”
Kent is the CEO and publisher of Insider Advantage Georgia and James Magazine and panelist on Georgia Gang. National Federation of Republican Women President Ann Schockett will also attend. There will be a special reception for her prior to the meeting from 11 to 11:30 a.m. The luncheon is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilton Marietta Conference Center. Attendees are asked to wear a mask while going through the food line and not move dining chairs to ensure the event complies with the facility’s COVID-19 precautions.
For more information and to make reservations, visit www.ccrwc.org.
Kennesaw police are asking for the community’s help in supporting families in need this holiday season.
Kennesaw Police Department’s Jerry Worthan Christmas Fund provides assistance for less fortunate families in the Kennesaw area.
Police are asking for donations of money, food and new toys. Donations can be dropped off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at Kennesaw Police Department headquarters, 2529 J.O. Stephenson Ave. Monetary donations can be mailed to Kennesaw Police Department, Attn: Officer Scott Luther, 2539 J.O. Stephenson Ave., Kennesaw GA. 30144. Checks should be payable to the Kennesaw Police Foundation. The deadline for all donations is Dec. 18.
Additional drop-off locations in Kennesaw will be at Conner Dental, at 1200 Barrett Parkway, Suite 200-204, Desktop Coworking Community at 3070 North Main Street, Turquoise Otter located at 2237 Whitfield Place NW, and Eaton Chiropractic, 2847 Main St. If you or someone you know needs assistance this Christmas season, contact the department’s records division at 770-429-4532.