After arriving Friday, July 20, at the Quality Inn & Suites for their two-day 13th Blue and White Douglass School Reunion, the classmates will share events both there and at the location of their school. Douglass School closed in 1959 when Hannibal schools were integrated.
“We will have activities on the old school grounds - which is now Willow Street Christian Church - on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with lunch served at noon,” said Joe Miller, chairman of the reunion committee.
The main event on Saturday night will be a banquet at 6 p.m. at the Quality Inn, Joe said, where “we will have a memorial service opening the banquet, in remembrance of all the deceased Douglassites. Stanley Clark will play the harmonica to close out that service.”
Featured speaker at the banquet will be Michael Miller, the son of Joe and Jane Miller. Michael was commencement speaker at his 1980 Hannibal High School graduation. He had been the 1979 governor of Boys’ State and he played basketball and track at HHS.
Michael, a software engineer who is also is a nondenominational church planter, is proud that when he and his older twin brother and sister, Jeff and Jill, graduated from HHS, their dad was a member of the Hannibal Board of Education and “was privileged with handing us our diplomas.”
At the reunion, Michael said, he “will be challenging the audience to embrace ‘home’ as more than just a physical place/residence, but rather think of it as a spiritual place where we find ourselves along life’s journey.”
Music at the banquet will be presented by Bill Morrison and Tina Haley between appearances of the speakers, who will include W.T. Johnson, Joel Dant and Joe Miller.
From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday evenings dance music will be provided by dejay Ryan White.
Joe noted that the reunion will include a surprise presentation involving several people, produced by Marsha Mayfield.
opened in 1885
Using wood he had saved from the old school building, Joe made some keepsakes to be raffled at the reunion. One item is a lamp and another a clock.
After opening in 1885, Douglass School taught students from throughout the Hannibal area, and one of the items to be raffled is a school bus that lists the cities represented.
One item for the auction is a quilt that reunion committee member Fannie Griffin is providing. The quilt tells the history of Douglass School, Joe said.
Another keepsake is not for the auction. It is a wooden school bus to be displayed at the reunions. The windows have photographs of some of Douglass’ final students, who were Joe’s classmates before they graduated from Hannibal High School in 1956.
Page 2 of 2 - Although the reunion committee has photos of some students, Joe said he “would be interested in having pictures of other students who were bused throughout the years, from any year.”
He rode the bus for many years as a young student, coming from Frankford, before his family moved to Hannibal in 1951.
The Hannibal City Council has designated July 20 and 21 “Douglassite Days.”
Reunion events scheduled on Friday will begin at 8 a.m. with registration at the Quality Inn. The group will gather at 6:30 p.m. and have a buffet at 7 p.m., with a program at 7:30 p.m. Speakers Friday night will include Mayor Roy Hark, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Susan Johnson and reunion committee member Teresa Griffie.
Saturday events begin at 8 a.m. with registration, then the group will travel to the old school grounds on Willow Street at 10 a.m., where lunch will be served from noon to 2 p.m.
The Douglass reunions are scheduled every other year, and 173 attended the 2010 reunion, Joe Miller said.
He anticipates attendance of around 150 this year and noted that although the registration deadline has passed, “latecomers are welcome.”
Joe praised the members of the reunion committee, reporting “we have had a standing committee for the past six or seven reunions, who work faithfully to make it the best it can be.”
In addition to Joe and Jane Miller, members are Fannie Griffin, George Green, Katherine Green, Maggie Hall, Terry Griffie, Toni Rose and Millie Jackson.
Joe added that his wife works “behind the scenes. She keeps me on task.”