It isn't often that a school gets to celebrate something as momentous as 100 years of history, especially in this age of growth and consolidation. But that is exactly what Prichard Elementary did last Friday, marking a century of providing education for the city of Grayson.

Prichard Elementary principal Jason McGlone explained that although the current building is much newer than that, a school known as Prichard has stood on the same site since 1919.

'In the 1918-1919 school year they established Prichard High School,' McGlone said. 'It sat at the corner of 301 West Main Street and Hill Street, I believe. In the spring of 1919 they moved into the building, and that was the first graduating class of Prichard High School.'

'That school stayed in existence until 1970,' he continued. 'In 1970 that was the last graduating class of Prichard High School. In 1971 it became the Prichard Elementary School, and from 1971 to 1988 it was a K through 8 building. But in 1988 the building burned. The roof caught on fire over the cafeteria and the structure burned. The building was rebuilt, and reopened in August of 1994, and from 1994 to now, this is the building that has existed here.'

Carter County Superintendent of schools, Dr. Ronnie Dotson, said the school, named for Dr. Lewis Prichard, has a proud tradition of education.

'I will tell you that Prichard has had a tradition of just being a great school,' Dotson said. 'I meet people out all the time that they still will associate, even though this is now a K-5 school, they still associate with Prichard as their school. Because, as Mr. McGlone said, several people went to high school at Prichard, so there is a lot of pride, and it's very unusual to have a school that is still in existence after 100 years. In fact, really after 30 or 40 years, usually they end up getting consolidated with another school and then ending up changing the name of it. So the fact that we have a school that is still Prichard after 100 years is quite amazing in itself.'

Former Grayson Councilperson Jennifer Scott McGlone, who graduated from Prichard High School before returning to become principal of Prichard Elementary, also shared several memories of her time with the school.

'I think I may be the only principal who ever graduated from Prichard,' she said. She opened the current building as principal, she explained, after the original building was lost to fire, and served there until retiring in 2005.

'I was counting up a few days ago and I believe I came up with, even though I worked through the 80s at East Carter and ended up as assistant principal up there, I spent 35 years of my life at Prichard School. Started here in first grade, graduated in '68. Came back here and taught. Then came back here as principal. So, hey, I love Prichard. How many places can say that there has been a school with the same name, on the same site, for 100 years? Not very many. I would guess it is very few. So, my life has been intertwined with Prichard, and here I am.'

'That's my jacket, my majorette jacket,' she said, indicating one of the tables laden with memorabilia of the school. She played flute in the Prichard High School Band.

'When I graduated there were so few of us, the school wasn't that big, so everybody was in everything,' McGlone said. 'Ballplayers would, at half time, would run up to the band, play, and run down to the locker room then for the talk, and then come back. It was just different. We all did everything. Everyone was involved.'

After school, she said, the school playground was still a gathering place for children and families, who would often barbecue on the property.

'Church groups and everyone (would use the property),' she explained. 'In the summer, kids would just strike up a baseball game. We'd come down and play tennis. If you were looking for somebody or something to do, you just ran down to the school. There was always something going on.'

Contact the writer at jwells@journaltimes.com.

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