70th Anniversary Of J.W. Ligon Jr./Sr High School Held


By Alicia Adcock, Special To The Carolinian

In the 1950s students were enrolling and graduating in numbers larger than what Washington School could handle; and as an extension of Washington School came the birth of John W. Ligon Jr./Sr. High School, a beautiful state-of-the-art facility in the “colored” community for “colored students.

It was obvious that the Legacy of being Excellent and Legendary was at the forefront, because of whom the school was named; John William Ligon, a phenomenal man and father, educator, pastor, principal, political figure,, and newspaper editor to name a few.

On April 12-13, 2024 Ligon Magnet Middle School commemorated t he 70th Anniversary of John W. Ligon Jr./Sr. High School with a round table discussion on Friday, and a Legendary Program on Saturday.

The round table discussion consisted of a panel of J.W. Ligon Alumni Association members, Alicia Adcock, Tony Bethea, Janet Jeffries, Clennis Noble, Commissioner Donald Mial, Secretary Treasurer Ronald Penny, and commentator Delon Fletcher. Students had the opportunity to ask the panel about their experiences when they attended Ligon, and their own personal questions. Regardless of questions or comments; answers would always end with how great our teachers were, how much they cared, and that our success was their top priority. A few of the teachers mentioned that left their mark for some were: Murial Allison, Robert Bridges, Joseph Edwards, Emily Mae Kelly, Harvey Heartley, Sr., S.V. Perry, W. A. Rainbow, Delores Revis, Ann Hunt Jones Smith, Roy Smith, and J.E. Williams.

As the celebration continued to Saturday, the festivities from 5:30-8:00 p.m. were awesome, and included yearbook and picture displays, fellowship, delicious hors d’oeuvres, a tour of the school, keynote speakers, performances, alumni reflections, and award presentations.

The program was none other than “Little Blues” Legendary and started with a welcome from Principal Gary DuVall, black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Solana Mack a Ligon 6th grader; and Stand Up, Ligon tapestry Dance Company. Presentations included honoring Ann Hunt Jones Smith from her God Daughter, Janet Jeffries, Dedication of the Ann Hunt Jones Smith chorus room and Ligon Legacy Alumni Award for commissioner Donald Mial by Principal DuVall, and a Special In Memoriam for Dr. “Chuck” Davis by Meghan Retseck, Magnet Program Coordinator.

Ligon Alumni speakers Donald Mial and Ronald Penny, spoke about now things were back during  our segregated days at Ligon, and to this day, most of us are doing quite well because of the great teachers we had.

Distinguished speakers, Dr. Elena Ashburn, Central Area Superintendent, and Dr. Robert Taylor, Superintendent of WCPSS adorned the stage with congratulatory comments on the 70th Anniversary and continued success on Achievements In Excellence.

Speaker, Alicia Adcock, former President of the J.W. Ligon Alumni Association was extremely proud when she found out that John William Ligon and her great grandfather, William Calvin Pope, were pastors during the same time at Tupper Memorial Baptist Church here in Raleigh, N.C.

Alicia spoke with Ligon’s oldest teacher, Dr. Virginia Newell, who is 106 years old, and her message to the Ligon students now, goes like this: “Keep on keeping on with your Education and Know more about something other than a computer. Education is the Key to open many doors, so get as much as you can. Love one another, and stop all the hating.”

As much as we all love Ligon, it was hurtful when it was changed to a Middle School, especially when to this day, we don’t know that happened to the many championship trophies we won.

Regardless of the misfortunes, the good, the bad, and the ugly, we are blessed to be celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Ligon, and still maintaining the Legacy of High Standards of Excellence.

A few of the Ligon Staff and Student Trailblazers, Icons, and, and Hall of Famers, that are no longer with us, and will never be forgotten are: John Baker, Jr., H.E. Brown, Ralph Campbell, Charles “Chuck” Davis, Harvey Heartley, Sr., Emily Mae Kelly, Willie Dean “Pat” White, and Peter “Pete” Williams.

A Special Thanks to Ligon Magnet Middle School Principal Gary DuVall, Meghan Retseck, Lindsay Strickland, and the staff, students, and performers for this 70th Anniversary Celebration.

Congratulations to celebrating Classes: 1954-70 years; 1959-65years; 1964-60 years; and 1969-55 years.

It’s a Celebration! Remember the Old, Remember the New, remember the Gold and the Blue…

Save the Date: Saturday, July 6, 2024, from 1:00-5:00 p.m. the J.W. Ligon Alumni Association will hold its 43rd Reunion Social at Chavis Park Community Center, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Raleigh, N.C. Donation for the occasion is $45.00. Casual Attire. Contact your class representative, or any Alumni Association member.

“The victory of the Ligon Little Blues Legacy as Champions was born Yesterday, Lives Today, and Shall Endure for a Lifetime.

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