School celebrates half a century

COVINGTON - Ficquett Elementary School seems to have touched many Covington residents' lives, whether they were students there or not.

Carroll Moss, a third-grade teacher at the school, said she's only been at the school for three years, but Ficquett has become an important part of her life, past and present.

She remembers her dad, Mac Gay, talking about his third-grade school year, when Ficquett first opened 50 years ago and the Old Covington School, located on the land where the police department is now, closed.

"Instead of saying, "Tomorrow, you're going to start at this school,' they just walked over," Moss said. "He said they just carried their books and chairs with them and started school. And now I'm teaching here."

The school will celebrate its 50th anniversary Saturday in a Sock Hop event from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

"We're going to have an Elvis (impersonator) drive up in a 1950s Chevy, and we're going to introduce the past (seven) principals," she said. "We hope everybody will come out."

Organizers are especially keen on finding former students and faculty members to attend the event.

"We've also invited board (of education) members and current principals in the county," said Principal Miriam Wilkins, who is serving her second year as principal and 27th at the school.

She said she takes great pride in the school, which has continuously made adequate yearly progress and is a Title I Distinguished School.

"We work hard here," she said. "Our mission is to empower all learners to succeed in their paths."

She said the school has several teachers and staff members who have worked at the school for 20 years or more, as well as several former students who have returned to work at the school.

Gail Carter, a media center specialist who attended the school from 1959 to 1967 and has worked at the school since 1990, said her favorite part of the school is its diversity.

"It's changed considerably through the years," she said of the school, which now serves about 900 students. "Used to, everyone knew where everyone lived and their parents. It was just a slower-paced life."

Now, she said students are from various parts of the country and that the school has a high English as a second language and special education population.

She said she has lots of ties to the building - her husband and two children also attended the school and her mother taught there.

"Ficquett has been such a part of my life that it's hard to imagine my life without it," she said.

Others feel the same way and will get to share their memories at Saturday's event.

"This is more like the focal point of the celebration coming together," Wilkins said. "People will get to see old friends and meet new acquaintances."

The event will also feature a slideshow, school tours and '50s music, as well as some attendees dressed in '50s-style clothing and food catered from The Varsity.

"It will be a fun time," Wilkins said.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.