Mayor Sherman Lea, Roanoke City Schools Superintendent Rita Bishop, City Council and School Board members joined a sizable gathering of community members August 17 at Hurt Park Elementary School (HPES) for the rededication of the School, named after Welford Hurt in 1959, the first African-American from Roanoke to die in World War II.
The Hurt family was in attendance at the grand celebration which also marked the start of a new school year.
“We shape our buildings, therefore they shape us,” said William Arthur Hurt Jr., the oldest nephew of Welford Hurt, who shared the classic statement by Winston Churchill.
Hurt said he was honored to stand on behalf of his uncle who had a major impact on the Roanoke Community during the 50’s.
“He was a brave African-American soldier who did not experience the freedoms many of us take for granted. A school named after my uncle allows children from all backgrounds to come and get an education,” he added. “This is your school for our children, getting ready for the future.”
During his remarks, Mayor Lea thanked the Hurt Park staff and community and let them know he wants Hurt Park to be “an All-American school.” He also expressed his appreciation for “all the hard work the staff and community have done to Hurt Park in going in that direction.
“This is a fun example of the community coming together for the sake of our children and I am very excited to be at Hurt Park School,” said newly installed principal Regina Gregory who is also new to Roanoke City Schools.
The celebration also involved the ribbon cutting of a proposed new gym to be erected under Gregory’s leadership.
New assistant principal Jonathan Rosser said he is excited to begin the new year at the “New Hurt Park School!”
Also joining the dedication were two former Hurt Park principals, Gary Galberth and Carlton Bell.
Additionally the celebration included a performance by the Patrick Henry High School drumline, a DJ and various activities for local children. During this time parents were able to look and learn about all the different programs at the school like “21st Century,” an innovative after school program.
Also featured was a free book program, “Turn the Page, Inc,” founded by attorney Lauren Ellerman who was on hand. The non-profit organization sponsoring the program gives away free books to parents to read to their children. This year the organization will be sponsoring a free breakfast at Hurt Park where they will pass out information and books.