It might have seemed strange that a school celebrates a 28th birthday.
There was a big gift for Snelson- Golden Middle School anyway.
Descendants of the Black educators the school’s name honors presented the school with a $5,000 check Friday afternoon.
Sisters Deborah Dawson and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. (ret.) Annie And rews presented the oversized check to SGMS Principal Dr. Ant hony Johnson on behalf of their great-great-grandfather, Rev. Floyd Snelson, and in remembrance of their late mother, Electa Andrews.
“This is in support of your initiatives, innovations and your intellectual stimulation for the students of Snelson-Golden Middle School,” Annie Andrews said.
The school was the first to be named after African Americans in Liberty County, county commission Chairman Donald Lovette pointed out. He was a school board member when the name of the next middle school was being decided. “As a school board member, along with Mattie Hicks, I offered the names of William Golden and Floyd Snelson to honor both of these pioneers,” he said. “These are the giants on whose shoulders we stand. We had to do something to recognize them.” Golden, the father of education for former slaves, opened the first school for African Americans in Liberty County, and Snelson was the first Black principal at
Dorchester Academy. The school board voted unanimously in favor of the name Snelson-Golden, Lovette said.
Dawson and Andrews recalled being at the school’s dedication when it opened in 1994. Andrews noted that she remembers the teachers and instructors she had back in elementary school. “They are the ones who influence you, motivate you and gave you the inspiration to do what I didn’t know I could do,” she said. “To the educators, faculty members, students, family, supporters and all friends, I am glad to be here. I am delighted to be here because it was 28 years ago when I spoke at a ceremony opening Snelson-Golden Middle School.”
Andrews also cited the many meetings where her great-grandmother, who lived to be 105, said a school needed to be named after an African American.
“It is great to be the presence of so many and share the existence of our ancestors, who paved the way of educating our youth,” Andrews said.
Verdell Jones, the chair-elect of the Liberty County Schools System, said it is the first time she’s gone to a birthday party for a school. She also said she was proud to have a connection with Dorchester Academy and that her oldest daughter had been a Snelson-Golden Middle School student.
Dr. Johnson recalled being a student at SGMS, with Cheryl Peterson as the principal — and Peterson remembered meeting with an eighthgrade Johnson.
“I can tell you Dr. Johnson exhibited leadership, greatness and excellence as an eighth grader,” she said. “I clearly remember our first meeting because they wanted to bring me their concerns from the student body. I can tell you Dr. Johnson loved Snelson-Golden then and he loves Snelson-Golden now.
“I am glad the torch has been passed on to you.”