The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

June 28, 2007

Byrd Prillerman High School reunion slated for this weekend

Alumni of Byrd Prillerman High School are hosting their reunion through Saturday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

Held every two years, the reunion is free except for an assessment fee of $75 for members of the alumni association.

Randy Radford, who attended elementary school there, said the focus this time around will be on the elementary students.

“The focus is on people who attended the elementary part of the school, which is the reason I was chosen to speak,” Radford said. “In the past, the focus has been on the high school graduates and there has not been a lot of focus on the elementary students.”

Radford was one of five children in his family to earn college degrees. He retired from the military and the Defense Department, where he managed security operations at the Pentagon, then entered the education field as a second career.

Byrd Prillerman included grades 1-12 and was located in Amigo. When it burned down on Jan. 12, 1962, it forced African-American students to integrate in surrounding area schools. Radford, who was in fifth grade at the time, attended Rhodell Elementary School and said the integration process was a mixed blessing.

“Initially, the burning of the school was very traumatic,” he said. “It was a mixed blessing, though, because I was with children in the neighborhood whom I played with, and at the time, I didn’t understand why we went to different schools.”

Today’s activities consist of a business meeting at 11 a.m., a talent and fashion show at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday’s activities consist of a memorial service at Central Baptist Church at 11 a.m., dinner, dancing and a speech by Radford.

“I’m very excited to make a speech,” he said. “Also on Saturday, we will be visiting a former teacher at Heartland who just happened to celebrate her 100th birthday.”

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