Hurricane puts dent in Big 4 Alumni reunion

North Carolina

Southeast / North Carolina 19 Views

When most people across the state hear anything about the “Big 4,” most people think about college basketball and the four North Carolina schools that compete in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference): NC State, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and Wake Forest. But here in Winston-Salem, the term takes on a different meaning.

The Big 4 – Atkins, Anderson, Carver, and Paisley high schools – represent the four African-American high schools in Winston-Salem as the result of past segregation. Although they were all rivals then, since the early‘80s the four schools have come together to celebrate the rich history of the four schools’ past and uplift the community through outreach and community service during its Annual Big 4 Alumni Celebration.

Part of the annual celebration was cancelled because remnants of Hurricane Michael whipped through the Triad.

This year’s celebration began on Wednesday, Oct. 10 with the Big 4 Day of Service. The day started at the Public Safety Center where alumni from the four schools donated more than 100 teddy bears to the Winston-Salem Police Department for children who have experienced tragedies and trauma.

Frank Thomas, who serves as the organization’s sergeant at arms, said they decided to donate to the WSPD because the Big 4 is all about uplifting the community. He said, “We are so honored that we can present these bears for your violence prevention program.

“We hope that they will be beneficial in the long run and we hope we can do this again.”

That same day, alumni from the four historic schools continued to use their efforts to uplift the community with a clothing drive at the Urban League. The clothing drive, which started at 10 a.m. and continued well into the day, was designed to give unemployed seniors in the Urban League’s job training program attire to wear to interviews.

Day Two of the annual celebration, which was a praise and worship service at Emmanuel Baptist Church, was cancelled due to Hurricane Michael, but the festivities continued on Friday, Oct. 12 with the Teachers and Educators Appreciation Luncheon.

The event gave former students a chance to thank the teachers and educators for their commitment to academic excellence and the values they taught during their formative years.

Carver alumna and soon to be one of the newest members of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School’s Board of Education, Malishai Woodbury, delivered the keynote address. Following the luncheon, Rudolph Boone Sr., who was a longtime music and band teacher at Carver High School, said it was one of the best tributes ever.

“That was one of the best tributes to the Big 4 teachers,” said Boone. “Hats off to the Anderson, Atkins, Carver, and Paisley High Alumni Association for sponsoring these luncheons for 30 years.”

Later that same day, alumni came together again for an evening of comedy, fun, and entertainment during Family Fun Night at St. John CME Church. Following dinner, those in attendance were treated to live music and a stand-up comedian who kept the crowd in stitches throughout the evening.

The festivities ended on Saturday, Oct. 11 with the Big 4 Gala Concert and Dance at the Benton Convention Center. The headliner was local cover band P Funk, who performed their unique sounds designed to take those in attendance down memory lane and ensure the alumni had the right tunes to dance the night away.

After attending most of the events incorporated within the annual celebration, several alumni from all four schools praised the organization’s officers for their hard work and dedication to make the celebration a success.

“This entire week has just been amazing. Any time you have a chance to re-connect with old classmates and friends, it’s always a blessing,” said a graduate from Atkins High School. “I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the celebration next year. I’ve already marked my calendar.”

For more information on the Big 4 Alumni Association visit www.big4fc.org.

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