From contributed reports
Voices lifted in song at historic Scrabble School on Nov. 6 as members of the Unity Choir performed during an open house.
The Unity Choir draws members from several local churches for community performances. The group performed at Scrabble under the direction of Alfreda Dean of Macedonia Baptist Church in Flint Hill. The choir sang familiar hymns to guitar and keyboard accompaniment and the audience was encouraged to join in the singing.
“The Unity Choir, the artisans and attendees brought this building back to the life it had when it was a school. It’s evolving and becoming the special community place we envisioned for it,” said Bob Lander, outgoing president of the Scrabble School Preservation Foundation.
In addition to the choir, local artisans showed quilts, hand crafts and cooking talents during the day. Tom Tepper, local architect and artist, signed copies of the Scrabble School logo that he created and presented to the preservation foundation in 2002.
Scrabble School was one of four schools in Rappahannock County that served African-American students from 1921 to 1968. The Nov. 6 event was the foundation’s last of four yearly activities hosted by the foundation. Black History Month in February, “May Day,” and “Back to School” in September are the other sponsored events.
First first-grader since . . .
On Oct. 22, Scrabble School hosted a visit from Jennifer Thede’s first grade class at Wakefield Country Day School in Huntly to the Rappahannock African-American Heritage Center at the school. The last time a first grade class came to Scrabble, the year was 1968.
Thede’s class already knew that Scrabble School was where African-American children attended classes “a long time ago.” Heritage Center staff member Susanna Spencer (also the librarian at Wakefield), told the first graders about school days at Scrabble with stories related by Scrabble School alumni. Several children tried out the antique desks as the class compared an old lunch box and hand-held slate to their modern equivalents. Substitute pizza and ice cream, and the Wakefield students also completely understood the enthusiasm Scrabble students had for special days, such as “soup day” and “ice cream day.”
The young visitors had questions about the school’s teachers, the playground, and the old school books that were on display. Spencer and Thede talked about the “story wall” that illustrates the Scrabble School story in pictures and words and students experimented with the interactive computer that features alumni describing what it was like to go to school at Scrabble. The two teachers had to remind the youngsters that the people on the screen used to be little, too. The field trip back in time ended with the first-graders thanking Spencer for telling and showing how it was going to school “way back then,” when it wasn’t like it is today.
The Rappahannock African-American Heritage Center shares the school with the Rappahannock Senior Center at Scrabble School. The senior center is open from 10 to 2 Monday through Thursday and the African-American center is open to the public on alternating Friday and Saturday afternoons, and/or by appointment. To arrange an educational program or tour, call 540-987-8504 or 540-987-3836.
Scrabble School is located south of Woodville at the intersection of U.S. 522 and Route 626 (Scrabble Road). For more information and to see a virtual tour, visit scrabbleschool.org.