For several months now, we’ve introduced you to notable alumni who have made a difference in the world using what they learned at Langston. Now we’re giving you a chance to meet some of these extraordinary people during a one-of-a-kind event set for mid-February.
The past will be brought to life during Langston Lives! Master storyteller Sheila Arnold will “become” notable Langston teachers and graduates. She’ll take on the personalities of some of the remarkable people who taught at and graduated from Langston High School. In this way, Ms. Arnold will convey the story and significance of Johnson City’s historic African-American high school.
For example, Ms. Arnold may give an impassioned sideline speech as legendary Coach Paul Christman, who led the school’s basketball and football teams to prominence and later became Science Hill’s first black coach. Or she may assume the personality of Dr. Hezekiah Hankal, the former slave and Johnson City alderman who founded Langston in 1893.
Langston Lives!, a gala featuring Ms. Arnold’s performance, “It Was Ours: Langston High School Through Memory’s Eye,” will be held Saturday, February 16 at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough. The event will feature a catered meal, delicious desserts and Ms. Arnold’s interpretive performance.
We’ll release many more event details as the date draws closer, but we wanted to make our supporters aware that tickets will be available during a special pre-sale event that starts TODAY! Tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite at a reduced cost of $55 for individuals and $90 for couples. Prices will increase on Jan. 25, so act now to ensure the best value!
The event is being staged as a fundraiser to support LEAD’s efforts to develop a multicultural arts and education center in the school. If you or your business is interested in sponsoring the event, please send an email to email@example.com.
We look forward to seeing you on February 16!
We’re excited to announce a one-of-a-kind event coming next month! LEAD has partnered with Ms. Sheila Arnold, a master storyteller and historical interpreter, to create a unique portrayal of Langston High School’s history.
Langston Lives!, a gala featuring Ms. Arnold’s performance, “It Was Ours: Langston High School Through Memory’s Eye,” will be held on Saturday, February 16 at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough.
Tickets for this special event go on sale Friday, so be looking for more details headed your way later this week!
A $10,000 donation from the Morris-Baker Community Fund will support ongoing work to rehabilitate Langston High School. Preston McKee, president of Morris-Baker Funeral Home, announced the gift during a press conference today held at the Johnson City Municipal Building.
McKee said the donation is intended to bring a once vibrant community resource back to life. It’s also a way to honor the long-time friendship between his grandfather, the late Carson Baker, Jr. who owned Morris-Baker Funeral Home, and J. Fletcher Birchette III, the president of Birchette Mortuary. Birchette, a 1962 Langston graduate, passed away in August 2017.
“Both my grandfather and Mr. Birchette were Johnson City natives who left the area to continue their educations but returned home where they operated successful businesses for decades,” McKee said. “Throughout the years, my grandfather and Mr. Birchette supported each other’s efforts to not only build their businesses but to improve the larger community as well.”
McKee said the Morris-Baker Community Fund builds on his grandfather’s legacy of giving back to the community. “As a company, we always look for ways to reinvest in our community, and the Langston project stood out, especially given my grandfather’s relationship with Mr. Birchette. We look forward to watching Langston take shape and continue to provide a positive role in Johnson City.”
Langston served the African-American community in Johnson City from 1893 until 1965 when the school closed following integration. LEAD is working to transform what remains of the school into a multi-cultural arts and education center for all ages. The Morris-Baker Community Fund donation brings the campaign a step closer to reaching the goal of $500,000.
“I am humbled that Mr. McKee would choose to honor his grandfather’s friendship with my father. My own family – and the larger Langston High family – are especially grateful that he chose to remember Fletcher Birchette in such a generous way,” said John F. Birchette IV, the current president of Birchette Mortuary who serves as treasurer on the LEAD executive board of directors.
“My father loved Langston and was the living embodiment of the school’s motto: ‘Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve.’ He spent his life quietly helping improve the community around him, and he would be so pleased to see the widespread support offered to this project,” Birchette said.
The effort to renovate Langston High School is a public-private partnership between the City of Johnson City and LEAD. Last summer, the city allocated $1.8 million to fund the project. LEAD is working to raise the remaining $500,000 needed to completely fund the rehab project. Well over half that amount has been raised in grant funding, corporate contributions and private donations.
At the project’s completion, the school’s gymnasium and shop will be transformed into a multicultural, multigenerational education center focused on STEAM education and mentorship programs. The space will also be used for special events, such as performances and professional networking socials, bringing together people of diverse backgrounds.
“This project is more than bricks and mortar. It’s an opportunity in our community to bring people together,” said Johnson City Vice Mayor Jenny Brock who spoke at the press conference. “We are stronger when all the voices in the community are gathered around the table,” she said.
Two LEAD Youth Ambassadors have been recognized as “Commended Students” in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. Andrew M. Keith, second from left, and Rachel K. Smith, second from right, were honored at a Johnson City Schools Board of Education meeting on Nov. 6. 2018.
These Science Hill High School students have worked alongside our executive board and advisory committee members since LEAD’s inception. We are extremely proud of not only their academic achievements but of their commitment to improving their community! Well done, Drew and Rachel!
For months, we’ve been raising money for renovations to the former Langston High School building. We’ve been talking about what the space will be used for and how it will benefit future generations. We’re excited by the possibilities this project offers and how it will shape our community for years to come.
Now, thanks to the dedication of many volunteers and the generosity of city leaders, businesses like General Shale and Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union and individual donors, we’re pleased to report that construction on the building has started in earnest.
Click through the gallery to see how work is progressing. We’ll post more pictures as the project takes shape.
A big thank you to the donors who have helped us reach this milestone. We couldn’t have done it without you!
You can be a part of this historic endeavor, too. Click here make a tax deductible contribution to Langston Education and Arts Development, Inc., and help preserve our school for posterity!
As if you needed another reason to enjoy a piece of pie, Buttermilk Pie Shop has partnered with LEAD to raise money to fund renovations at Langston High School.
From September 11-13, 20 percent of proceeds from sales at Buttermilk Pie Shop will be donated to LEAD. The pie shop is located at 3135 People’s Street, Suite 300, Johnson City. You can check out their menu here.
So go ahead and indulge! After all – it’s for a good cause!