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Fond memories

English School alumni organize
first reunion for old schoolhouse

Building last operated
as a grade school in 1963

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

ENGLISH, Ky. (October 2009) – Allen Doll has fond memories of attending school in English, Ky., and being taught by Kentucky legislative member Roy Searcy. Searcy would sometimes take his eighth-grade government class to work with him in Frankfort so they could experience first-hand how government works. This was a fascinating field-trip that made a big impression on a student in 1952.

Allen Doll

Photo by Shelli Ratcliff

Allen Doll is among the organizers
of the first English School
reunion, set for Oct. 3.

Doll, 71, attended the English School from April 1946 until May 1952. He has many special memories of the school that housed grades first through eighth, such as the time he played basketball for the varsity team. In one particular game, the score was 10-12, and Doll scored six of his team’s 10 points.
Another teacher Doll vividly remembers is his third and fourth grade teacher, Hattie Jackson. He had to be on his best behavior in her class because she was also his Sunday School teacher.
Memories such as this will be relived when a school-wide reunion is held for the English School on Oct. 3 beginning at 9 a.m. on the school grounds, located in English. The site is one mile off off I-71 at Exit 43. Attendees are asked to bring photos, graduation programs, autograph books and any memorabilia reminiscent of their time spent at the schoolhouse to share with others who attend the reunion.
“We are dedicating a portion of the day for stories and remembrances to be shared via a microphone and plan to have emcees for each decade of time to keep things moving,” said reunion organizer Sue (Marshall) Leite. Memorabilia on loan for the day will be placed in a glass showcase.
The reunion is for all grades for the entire 34-year period the school operated. It is open to the public for anyone wishing to attend who may have been a student, worker, friend or relative.
Doll said reunion organizers have heard from former students as far away as Florida and California. His great-grandfather settled in the area in 1848 from Germany, and Doll has many cousins, a brother and sister who attended the English School. His family lived about six miles from the brick schoolhouse, and he said pupils where “just common farm kids.”
The suggestion was made five years ago to hold a school-wide reunion, but no one would initiate what seemed to be a daunting process. Eventually, Leite and several other alumni decided to give it a try, realizing there were lots of people who would be interested in revisiting the schoolhouse that opened in 1929.
Three planning meetings were held to organize the reunion.
“There has never been a school-wide reunion for the 34 years it functioned nor following the closing of the facility 46 years ago,” said Leite, 65. “I don’t think there has ever been an individual class reunion of any of the years.”
Leite attended the English School from 1950-1958, graduating from the eighth grade in May 1958. Her father, Lyman Richard Marshall, taught seventh grade at the English School. The last eighth grade class graduated in 1963.
Once the building no longer housed a school, it was purchased by John Hamburg and functioned as the Carrollton Cabinet Factory for about 30 years. In 2001 David and Willena Finley sold their property in La Grange, Ky., and purchased the building and began renovation.
The original school sat on two acres, but the Finley’s purchased an additional 16 to 18 acres. They currently reside in an apartment inside the former school.
David Finley said he is interested in the history of the schoolhouse. He has kept some of the original windows intact and a few blackboards that were left behind once it was no longer a functioning school. He has converted a blackboard into a backsplash above his kitchen sink.
He said he is “always looking at distressed property,” such as the schoolhouse when it appeared in 2001. “It was in desperate shape when I purchased it,” said Finley, who is originally from Jefferson County, Ky. Finley attends church in English, where he is the Associate Pastor at the Family Worship Center.
He is currently working to get the gym renovated to provide a space for a banquet hall complete with a stage, to rent out to the community for reunions, dinners and plays. He and his wife will be playing host to the reunion and will have their apartment open for guests. Their living room was the former first through fourth grade classrooms.
If reunion guests would like to bring photographs with them, Finley said he would scan the pictures and make them available for anyone who wants them.

• A reunion planning meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the English School. For more information, contact Sue Leite at (502) 732-9193 or email at leitesc@bellsouth.net or visit: www.englishkyschool.com.

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