A School and Reunion to Remember: W.C. Taylor Most of us who attend our high school reunions do so for a common reason: to reconnect and reminisce with friends from days gone by. A recent high school reunion held in Warrenton served the same purpose, but with several others to boot. Segregation between black and white students still existed prior to the early 1960s in Fauquier County, and there were many smaller schools, some of them one-, two-, or three-room schoolhouses, to accommodate students of all ages. In 1918, Rosenwald High School—which despite its name served elementary students too—opened on Madison Highway (now E. Shirley Avenue) in Warrenton to serve the area’s black students. The principal appointed to the school in 1929 was William Charlton Taylor, who had spent 29 years as a teacher and later as principal of the Manassas Industrial School. He retired in 1945 but remained so adored and influential that when a brand new high school opened across the highway from Rosenwald in 1952, it was named W.C. Taylor High School in his honor. At the time, each Taylor class had about 50 students, making it a very small and tightly knit community. Larger families—often with six or more children—were more common than they are today. As a result, brothers and sisters were often in school together, and students were friends with those in their own grade as well as others in their siblings’ grades. Taylor served black students in grades 8–12, although upon opening, its oldest students were juniors. The first class graduated in 1954 and the last in 1969. In the early- to mid-1960s, integration of black students into the then all-white Fauquier High School (FHS) was voluntary. A few black students chose to go there, but beginning with the class of 1970, integration became mandatory. Taylor High School then became a junior high, serving grades 7–9. The class of 1964 was the first to have a reunion. After that, the classes of 1964 and 1965 had a joint reunion. By 1969, group reunions every few years of all graduating classes became the norm. Fauquier resident Earsaline Anderson (née Grant, Taylor ‘64) has been on the reunion committee since it formed more than five decades ago and helped with efforts to host the latest reunion weekend on September 1–2, 2017. Earsaline notes that this was a special reunion for several reasons. It marked the 65th anniversary of the school’s opening and was the first to be held at Taylor since 2008. In addition, alumni wanted to pay tribute to Ruth Nelson, who recently retired from serving as the school’s principal for more than two decades. When Robert Walker Earsaline learned about the possibility of constructing a new middle school to replace both Taylor and Warrenton, she got word out that this may be the last reunion held on the original school grounds. Saturday evening’s festivities included a catered dinner in the Taylor cafeteria followed by DJ music and dancing in the gym. More than 200 alumni and guests attended, with attendees from each graduating class. Although the ugly issue of segregation forced African-American youth to be in separate schools, Taylor High School teachers and administrators expected nothing but the best—in all areas—from their students. E a r s a l i n e explains that their principal, Clifford Hazzard, and assistant principal, Clarence Johnson, made a point of knowing all of their students and parents. “Mr. Hazzard called every one of us by our name,” she recalls. “I was ‘Ms. Earsaline,’” she says with a smile. Thanks to his connections with local businesses, Mr. Hazzard helped his students obtain after-school jobs. Mr. Johnson previously served as a teacher of a small school in Rectortown and then at Rosenwald High School. Both gentlemen served in their respective roles throughout the entire time that Taylor was a high school. “They pushed us to work hard,” Earsaline says. “On Career Day, they brought in representatives from colleges to talk to us. We often went on field trips and were exposed to a lot of different options.” It’s no surprise that Taylor High School graduates went on to achieve great things. The first graduating class of 1954 was comprised of 20 girls and 9 boys, including Robert Walker, who attended the Saturday reunion event. The eldest of six children who graduated from Taylor High School, Robert went on to serve 17 years on the Warrenton Town Council, primarily in the 1980s. One of his sisters, Frances Walker Goldring (’58), also attended the reunion. Classmates from the Taylor Class of 1956 Wallace Arnold and Ellsworth Weaver, both of whom went on to graduate from Hampton University (called Hampton Institute at the time) were happy to see each other at the reunion. Commissioned into the U.S. Army through Hampton’s ROTC program, Wallace served 34 years from 1961–1995, retiring as a Major General, and later spent three years as president of Cheyney University in Pennsylvania. Ellsworth enjoyed a career in general contracting, which moved him overseas for more than three years. He Wallace Arnold eventually returned to Fauquier, where he taught technology at both FHS and Liberty High School. The Fudd family saw nine children graduate from Taylor High School. Three of them attended the Saturday evening festivities, including Virginia (’64), Gilbert (’66), and Deborah (’69). Warrenton residents may recall seeing Gilbert at the post office in Old Town, where he worked for 30 years. Principal Mr. Clifford P. Hazzard Assistant Principal Mr. Clarence D. Johnson Taryn & Ellsworth Weaver To advertise: In addition to Gilbert, the Taylor Class of 1966 was well-represented at the reunion. Class president and yearbook editor-in540-349-8060 www.discoverypubs.com 20 Discover Fauquier ■ October 2017