Thank you, 40 years later: Lincoln Class of ‘78 honors its teachers

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018


By Ken Stickney

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Forty years after graduation, the Abraham Lincoln High School Class of 1978 gathered Tuesday to thank the people who gave them their launch into the world — their teachers.

“Thank you, teachers, for being excellent role models,” said Audrey Ervin Jones, valedictorian and student body president, Class of ’78, co-organizer of the event.

Some 100 people gathered for the morning program in Israel Chapel AME Church, where Abraham Lincoln High School traces its roots back to 1904. The high school was transformed into a middle school in 2002, following 98 years as a high school, with consolidation of Thomas Jefferson, Stephen F. Austin and Abraham Lincoln high schools into Port Arthur Memorial High School.

Seventeen surviving teachers were among those scheduled to be honored Tuesday; a moment of silence was given for teachers who had passed away since 1978.

Back to Lincoln school

Audrey Ervin Jones, Lincoln High '78 valedictorian, talks about touring Abraham Lincoln Middle School./Ken Stickney, The News

Posted by Port Arthur News on Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Vivian Sneed, career teacher and Lincoln High alumna, cited a litany of characteristics found in good teacher like those who taught the Class of 1978. These included honesty and compassion, kindness and generosity. They were communicators and listeners, she said, before calling 17 teachers to the podium to receive certificates of appreciation.

“Teachers plant seeds of knowledge that grow forever,” she said, instilling a beneficial influence that “can never be erased.”

“The class of 1978 produced a lot of talented people,” said Hilton Kelley, Class of ’78. “Theater and academics were stressed highly. We had great teachers who made sure you got what they were teaching.”

Sharon Bailey, who moved to Port Arthur in time to attend Lincoln High, said the faculty and administration fostered a “strong sense of community and family.”

“It’s part of who I am,” she said of Lincoln High. “This is like a re-baptism of the values we grew up with.”

Alumni remembered vividly the football and basketball championships — the football win over Thomas Jefferson High in 1972 brought gleeful recollections — but they remembered well life lessons passed along by the coaches that weighed as mightily as the athletic wins.

Dr. Melvin Getwood, Lincoln High’s last principal, was both student and administrator for the high school. His dad graduated Lincoln High in 1940, he said; Getwood quarterbacked the 1971 football team and was the third Lincoln High graduate to serve as principal. Edward Watson and Dr. Verlie Mitchell were the others.

“All I cared about growing up was being a Bumblebee,” Getwood said.

Teachers listed as among those honored included: Naomi Sneed Bailey, Vivian Bobb, Marjorie Cole, James Gamble, Valerie Haley, Artemus Hancock Sr., Mary Lathan, Leroy Leopold, Cordell Lindsey, Roger McLane, Annette Mitchell, Barbara Perrot, Ruby Rogers, Ronald Spooner, Thomasene Thomas, Gloria Venison, Richard Williams.

Beatrice Grant, Class of 1945, was honored as queen.