Former Lincoln-Jackson students, teachers to reunite

 


CLOVIS — Former students and teachers from Lincoln-Jackson this weekend will gather to celebrate their school’s rich history.

“The motivation is just to keep the history alive,” Joyce Pollard said of the reunion. “We want to make sure that everyone is aware of the history of Lincoln Jackson and some people are not. Some people didn’t even know there was segregation of schools in Clovis.”

According to a history of Lincoln Jackson compiled by former Principal U. Douglas Clay and Clovis Municipal Schools, the school got its start in 1924 at Patterson Chapel Baptist Church.

Ida O. Jackson, for whom the school is partly named, began teaching at the school after moving to Clovis in 1926. She retired three decades later in 1954, according to Clovis News-Journal records.

Pollard said Jackson was so popular with students and their families that she was selected to have the school named after her, along with President Abraham Lincoln.

Population at the school was at 292 in 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court voted to desegregate schools and Lincoln Jackson was converted into an elementary school for all races.

Pollard said the first Lincoln-Jackson reunion was held in 1989 — thanks to the vision of her husband Bruce Pollard, Sonny Archie and Andrew and John Robinson.

Now in its 15th iteration, this year’s reunion begins Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Bethlehem Baptist Church, the former home of the school during the 1920s. Pollard said Friday’s memorial services are meant to honor any former students or teachers from Lincoln Jackson and will feature several speakers, singers and poem readings.


Clovis native and former Lincoln-Jackson student Yvette Kaufman-Bell, the executive director of New Mexico’s Office of African American Affairs, will be the memorial’s keynote speaker.

The festivities continue on Saturday with a noon cookout at American Legion Post 117 and an 8 p.m. banquet at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3015.

Pollard said the banquet will feature a comedian and an awards ceremony including honorees Della Martin and Wilma Haynes, both former Lincoln-Jackson students.

Ray Mondragon, who attended Lincoln Jackson for first through sixth grade, said there was a special bond formed between students and educators at the school.

Mondragon said he was especially close with his fourth-grade teacher Geri Byrnes and he read to Byrnes at her bedside years later when she was suffering from cancer.

“Who would have thought when she used to read to us as a fourth-grader, the fourth-grader would be reading passages from her Bible at her bedside as she passed away,” Mondragon said.

Clovis city commissioner and former principal at Lincoln Jackson Ladona Clayton said the school is special in the way it celebrates its history. Old photographs had been on display when Clayton worked at the school. It has hosted numerous reunions before and after merging with Bella Vista Elementary in 2005.


“I do see that as unique because I worked at more than one school, but this is the only one I continue to get an invitation (to a reunion),” Clayton said.

Today the Lincoln Jackson Family Center hosts preschool children who have developmental disabilities or delays.

Joyce Pollard said she hopes anyone and everyone with a connection to the school will take part in the reunion.

“We’re hoping that anyone that would like to come, we welcome those people to come out and celebrate this occasion because we just want people not to forget about Lincoln Jackson,” she said.

 

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