An afternoon in the park – Bolling School Alumni Association hosts fund raiser for scholarship program

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By Peggy Mackenzie

Taken during an undated Bolling School reunion are several members of the alumni association. Front Row: Warren Baker (left), Edna Brown, Mary Childress, Ann Cooley, Pearl Carter; Second Row: Neva Gordon (left), Viola Cooley, Harriet Williams, Esther Arnett, Sylvia Garroson, Jesse Burns, Alice Dickerson, Bernice Sears; Third Row: Carl Renick (left), Billie Barbour, Sonny Swann,

On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Bolling High School Alumni Association is hosting fun, food and games at Dorie Miller Park in Lewisburg.

Games for youth and adults will be provided, including a three on three basketball challenge with Bimbo Coles. All proceeds from food and beverage sales will support the Bolling Alumni Scholarship Program for Greenbrier County Youth. Hamburgers ($5 each) and hotdogs ($3 each) grilled by “Chefs” Coach Cordon and Randy Auvil, with sodas ($1 each). The event will run from 12 noon to 5 p.m. at the Dorie Miller field on Feamster Road.

The alumni association was initiated in 1952 by Martha Bollen, according to Neva Gordon, 95, now the oldest living Bolling School alumni. It was a close-knit group back then and monthly alumni meetings at various members homes kept the energy going. Annual homecomings and reunions were organized as fun ways to stay connected. The alumni association’s mission had always been to be a support for community members in the county.

The scholarship program for Greenbrier County youth sprang up from those early meetings and for close to 10 years now a $500 scholarship has been offered to students from both Greenbrier East and Greenbrier West High School at graduation. Fund raising for the scholarship comes from participation in TOOT events, proceeds from gatherings at Dorie Miller Park, even membership dues.

Applicants are required to present a written biography, including goals and aspirations, and also write an essay on a topic of community values. A considered additional criteria for the scholarship is for the applicant to agree to return after college to meet with the alumni membership and share their college experiences. But more importantly, to make an effort to reach out to students and encourage them to continue their education and graduate.

Today there are approximately 15 active alumni members, according to Janice Cooley, a board member of the Greenbrier Historical Society and a Bolling School alumnus. Although the alumni are aging, their commitment to the benefits of education are evident in their continued support for local students and the community at large.

The Bolling School first opened its doors in the 1870s, offering African Americans elementary and middle school education. High school education was later offered in 1935. In various iterations, the school stood through segregation and integration in the 1950s. The Bolling school still stands today as a vestige of history where black children were educated during the era of segregation. It was named for Edward Anderson Bolling, who taught for 40 years in Greenbrier County.