New playground coming for Grays Chapel Elementary School

The daughter/father combination of Melanie Neighbors, left, and Lonnie Allred pose with memorabilia during Grays Chapel Elementary School’s 100-year celebration this spring. (Courtesy photo)

Funds raised during 100-year celebration aid project

FRANKLINVILLE – The 100th anniversary celebration for Grays Chapel Elementary School went so well this spring that a new playground will be installed soon on the rural school’s grounds.

“All the funds we raised that day went toward the playground,” said April Wood, a kindergarten teacher and one of the anniversary event organizers. “We raised enough money to pay for the installment and some additional pieces.”

The Randolph County School System accepted an anonymous gift for $35,870 for a piece of playground equipment to benefit K-2 students. School principal Lori Johnson’s memo to the school board pointed out that funds from the 100th-year event should cover the installation fee and shipping/handling charges.

Overall, the celebration was deemed a success with hundreds of visitors. The big thrill for many was reconnecting with former students and staff.

“Being able to see so many people from the past,” Wood said. “It was an awesome day.”

Wood said nearly 100 former school employees checked in at the celebration and more might have stopped by and not signed in. Many ex-students of the school still live in the community and some families have had multiple generations of students go through.

Because of various discounts applied, the equipment has been purchased at less than half of the listed price, Wood said.

An auction connected to the reunion raised more than $16,000.

There was morning rain, but then the skies cleared. Visitors spent time inside and outside the school building.

Wood, a former Grays Chapel student, is retiring from the school in June after 19 years as a teacher there. She has been compiling some memorabilia and items that she hopes can be preserved for a future celebration.

“I’m trying to leave some memories behind,” she said.

By Bob Sutton