Gymnasium Dedicated at Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy
By Erin Smith
An excited crowd gathered inside the gymnasium of the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy in Elizabethtown for a dedication ceremony. The gymnasium, which was built in the 1920s, has been restored and will serve as the school’s gymnasium.
The crowd in attendance consisted of alumni who attended the school when it was the Bladen County Training School and the Bladen Central High School, current cadets who attend Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy, and members of the community.
The colors were presented by the Color Guard and the John L. Foye Rifles drill team, who have won the national John J. Pershing Rifles competition, performed for the audience.
Col. Lloyd explained a new sign for the gymnasium had been designed for the occasion. Headmaster Roland McKoy and Ms. Minnie Price were called on to unveil the sign. The sign reads the “Price-McKoy Field House” and is dedicated to Mr. McKoy and Ms. Price for their hard work and dedication to the school.
Col. Lloyd recounted how eight years ago, he told his uncle he wanted to start a military charter school in Bladen County. His uncle introduced him to Mrs. Price, who immediately offered to help. Col. Lloyd recounted telling his uncle and Mrs. Price the school needed a headmaster. At the next meeting one month later, Mr. McKoy was present, and he agreed to serve as headmaster, according to Col. Lloyd.
Col. Lloyd recognized Mac and Sylvia Campbell and their son, Chris Campbell, who were all in attendance, for their dedication and support of the school.
“They made huge financial contributions to help us get this gym back up and running,” said Col. Lloyd.
He explained to the audience the lights in the gym were gifts from Mac Campbell and Bladen We Care.
Ray Britt spoke on behalf of the Optimist Club and brought greetings from the Bladen County Board of Commissioners.
“It was not too many years ago that everyone thought we had two high schools in the county. It wasn’t too long that I saw we had three high schools in the county,” said Britt.
He explained the Optimist Club had struggled to get essays and oratorical entries from the county’s high school students. Britt said the first time the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy was included in the contests, they not only submitted numerous entries, they became the host for the Optimist Club’s oratorical and essay contests.
“Everything about the Optimist Club is about the youth and our community. Everything stays local, but we also assist and help the Boys and Girls Home,” said Britt.
In addition to the essay and oratorical contests, the Optimist Club also awards scholarships to a high school senior at East Bladen High School, West Bladen High School, and Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy.
Britt encouraged the cadets to become involved in civic groups and their community.
Dorothy McKoy, Chairman of the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy Board of Trustees spoke. She thanked everyone in attendance.
“These grounds have certainly been blessed,” said Dorothy McKoy.
She continued by naming the various schools that have been housed in the buildings. Ms. McKoy recounted that, in the 1920s, the first high school for black students in Bladen County was located on the site and most recently the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy, the first public military charter school in the state, has located on the site. Ms. McKoy also noted the site was blessed once more when the Cadets of Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy won national recognition when they earned first place and national honors in the John J. Pershing Rifle competition.
Headmaster Roland McKoy spoke and pointed out there will be a stone marker placed outside the gymnasium that denotes the generosity and support the Campbell family have shown to the school.