Old-school celebration

Events to honor Pinckney history

Pinckney School students stand at attention during a 1946 school assembly in the auditorium. The school at 810 W. Sixth St. will celebrate its 75th anniversary in the current building on Saturday.

Mabel Stoneback says she doesn’t remember a lot about her three years at the original Pinckney School.

But the 92-year-old Lawrence woman does have a clear memory of her first day at the former red brick and limestone school back in 1921.

“I remember that my mother took me to school to enroll me in the first grade. And while she was talking to the teacher up front by her desk, I got tired of standing there. And I saw a chair over in the corner, so I went over and sat down in it,” Stoneback said Thursday.

“And all the children laughed at me because that was the dunce chair,” she said, chuckling as she told the story. “It kind of embarrassed me.”

Stoneback is among the school’s many former students who plan to attend Pinckney’s Birthday Celebration on Saturday that will mark the original school’s 135th birthday and the 75th anniversary of the existing building at 810 W. Sixth St.

Janet Reeder, Pinckney’s library media specialist, said the school will have an open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

At the event, the public can see old photos and scrapbooks, artwork, a historical video and a timeline made by students.

“The children have created a timeline from 1871 to the present,” Reeder said. “They have co-mingled national events with things that were going on at the schools.”

Carolyn Evers, a first-grade teacher at the school, has created a “Walk in Time” video presentation on Pinckney’s history that will be shown every 15 minutes during the celebration.

Reeder said the school will also serve strawberry shortcake, a popular treat from the earliest days of the school.

Pinckney opened in fall 1871 as a two-story building with six classrooms, Reeder said. The original school, which cost $6,000, was built too tall and narrow for its base, so a two-story structure with two rooms was added later, Reeder said. A third addition came later, she said.

Reeder said the school was named for Pinckney Street (now Sixth Street), which ran in front of it. The street was named for Charles Coatsworth Pinckney, an American Revolution-era statesman.

Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance writer poet and filmmaker, attended the original school in 1909 as a second-grader.

The current school, with an Art Deco architectural style, was built in 1931, she said. A gymnasium was added in 1957, and the library was renovated in 1996. In 2000, a new office, two restrooms and two classrooms were added.

Stoneback has been looking through old scrapbooks, which helped her remember that during recess children would play in a ravine behind the school.

She said she will enjoy Saturday’s festivities.

“I hope to see some of my friends,” Stoneback said. “But I don’t know if there are very many of them left.”