August 9th, 2017
School 26 Alumni Reminisce and Hope
by Alese Allen, PreEnactIndy intern
As we prepare for Pre-Enactment, it was our personal goal to seek out people that knew anything about 16th Street so we could get to know the community better and take note of their hopes and dreams for the area. We came across a few former students of John Hope School 26.
Vop Osili, a member of the City-County Council District 15, attended School 26 for four years. His aunt was the music teacher, and a strict one at that, he tells us. He stated that his favorite memories were being a part of every school play and winning the Music Memory Contest. School 26 held all their students to high expectations which motivated them to do something meaningful with their lives. The biggest impact the school made on him was to encourage him become something! That was an important lesson that the teachers instilled in their students.
Even though he didn’t live in the neighborhood, he did spend a lot of time there. One of his favorite memories about the neighborhood was how full the community was and how complete it seemed. After visiting the school about three years ago, Osili had the opportunity to see how beautiful the school still was and how it hadn’t really changed much. However, his hope for the neighborhood is to fill the many empty homes and create a thriving and safe place for people to live. Pre-Enactment to him means imagining the way things should be.
Carletta Rush, grandmother of Harrison Center’s intern Tylan Jones, was also a student of School 26. Both she and Tylan’s aunt Karen Butler attended for half a year. They both agreed that the atmosphere was great, and that all the faculty wanted was for their students to succeed. Their favorite memory was of the penny candy store nearby that they would go to every Friday. To them, the word Pre-Enactment means a chance for everyone to come together and brainstorm on the things they want for the community and a new beginning.
Joe Rush, the Assistant Pastor at True Victory C.O.G.I.C. (the church across the street from School 26) was a former student of School 26 as well. He attended the school from grades first through fourth and his favorite memories were all the friendships he built there. He stated that going to the school gave him a better understanding of how to become successful and to know that he could be someone very important one day.
Joe also was a member of the community and said the impact that the neighborhood had on him was to strive to be happy. He remembered the candy store near the school where he and his friends would go every Friday. He also remembers getting his first library card at the Dunbar Library. Pre-Enactment to him meant an opportunity to make a difference–to see more people outside their homes and for everyone to live happy and build their relationship with God.
Betty Jackson, a member of True Victory C.O.G.I.C., also attended School 26. But while School 26 was a predominantly African American school , there were a few whites and Betty was one of them. Betty attended School 26 from grades first through third. and, despite being in the minority, she still made a lot of friends, though it was hard at first . Sometimes it was a challenge but she wouldn’t change a thing because it molded her into the person she is today. Pre-Enactment to her is a chance for people to stand up and have their voices heard.
Gladyss Carter is also a member of True Victory C.O.G.I.C., and attended the John Hope School 26 for third and fourth grades. Gladyss was a straight A student because her teachers motivated her and wouldn’t let her settle for anything less.
All of the interviewees said that there was nothing they would change about their experience at School 26. That speaks well about their time at John Hope.
After conducting these interviews, we discovered how significant their stories are to the community, and were reminded to honor the past even as we look forward, with hope, to an even brighter future for Monon 16.