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Happy Birthday, W.O. Parmer

Parents, faculty and local dignitaries (plus WAKA Channel 8) attended W.O. Parmer Elementary School’s 75th birthday celebration, Monday night.

W.O. Parmer Principal Carol Teague welcomed the group, which included several alumni from as far back as the 1930s.

One of those alumni was Mayor Dexter McLendon, who praised the community’s dedication to education.

&uot;I am proud of our public education system here in Greenville,&uot; McLendon said. &uot;I’m proud of Greenville High School, and the fact that the city of Greenville has committed to paying $550,000 for 20 years to pay for the new school.&uot;

McLendon said that although the new school was a great accomplishment for the city, the roots of education in the community are found at W.O. Parmer.

&uot;This is where it starts – right here,&uot; he said. &uot;I want everyone to know that the city of Greenville believes in education. Everyone keeps asking me about whether Greenville will get any Hyundai suppliers. I’m here to tell you that, without education, we wouldn’t stand a chance. We’ve got to have education, and we’ve got to do more for education in this state.&uot;

Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed praised W.O. Parmer’s accomplishments.

&uot;For the past 75 years, this school has symbolized what education can do for students and the citizens of Greenville,&uot; Reed said. &uot;Education removes barriers and opens doors. W.O. Parmer stands for these ideals.&uot;

Reed said he feels that, though the school building is old, the elementary school’s faculty and staff contribute to keeping the community new.

&uot;Every year, we get a new life,&uot; he said. &uot;We get a chance to build and re-create ourselves, because every year a new crop of children comes into the system. And you see its worth when you see a child’s face light up with understanding – that magic moment between student and teacher. Then you know what it’s all about.&uot;

Tom Braxton, president of the Historical Landmarks Society of Butler County, gave an interesting presentation on the history of education in Greenville.

&uot;The first students in Butler County were home-schooled,&uot; Braxton said. &uot;Some people even built school rooms into their houses. But the first official schools were the Greenville Collegiate Institute and the South Alabama Institute. Both were founded by churches – the Greenville Collegiate Institute by the Methodist Church and the South Alabama Institute by the Baptist Church.&uot;

Braxton pointed out that the first city school was built in 1896 on the site of the current city hall. When it burned in 1927, W.O. Parmer was built.

Entertainment for the program was provided by the school’s Tiger Cub choral group, singing &uot;My Country ‘Tis of Thee,&uot; and the kindergartners, who sang two selections, &uot;Well, That’s Okay,&uot; and &uot;Five Little Monkeys.&uot; The choral group was led by Doris Peagler.