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Southern Normal to celebrate founders

By By Lydia Grimes
features reporter

Southern Normal School saw many changes over the last 99 years, and even though the original school closed some years ago, the alumni association works hard to keep the memory of the school alive.
The Southern Normal Alumni Association has planned a Founder’s Day weekend celebration to honor the founding of the school 99 years ago. At that time James Dooley Sr. founded the school to prepare young black students to go on to get a college education.
At the peak of the enrollment, there were as many as 350 attending school there. Even though the school closed in the late 1990s, it was soon revitalized when Alabama State University took over the campus and began to use it as one of its satellite school campus. ASU-Southern Normal operates a variety of programs and recently opened a resource center and computer lab dedicated to small business development.
On Saturday, the Founders Day committee will hold a parade at 11 a.m., beginning downtown behind the Bank of Brewton. The parade will roll through downtown and up Sowell Road to Martin Luther King Drive and disband at Sportsman Park.
Saturday night the celebration will continue with a black and white social from 8 p.m. until midnight at Van Vorst Hall on the campus.
Sunday activities begin at 2:30 p.m. at Van Vorst Hall. The keynote speaker will be Chaplain Colonel Kenneth L. Sampson, an ordained pastor in the Reformed Church of America who served as both a teacher and coach while at Southern Normal. He is currently the command chaplain for Army Material Command at Fort Belvoir, Va. Those who are coming from all directions to attend the Founder’s Day will be able to see old friends and enjoy the time together.