A Look Back at Parkland High School

A Look Back at Parkland High School
February 18
00:00 2016
Submitted photo
Norma Corley’s picture from high school yearbook.



It was the best of times and the worst of times! High school generated a dichotomy of emotions and memories for me. What I recall most vividly about going to Parkland Senior High in the fall of 1966 is that I was attending a school that shared a name with the hospital where President John F. Kennedy was taken after he was shot. Pres. Kennedy was an icon to me …a smart man with charisma and strong family support. I felt connected somehow.

Still, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to go to Gray High School, mainly because of its beautiful campus. All those trees and stately buildings – at least they seemed so to me – had really impressed me.

I had no generational connection to either school. Because of segregation, blacks could not attend Gray High, and Parkland was new, just opening. I had casual relationships with my classmates from Hill Junior High where I was the first black and the only black for a while.

There was no contact with classmates after school hours, so there was no chance to develop lasting friendships. I felt as though I was without a country … caught in the middle of black culture and white culture, not really fit-ting in anywhere. A former teacher told me that I always looked like a “deer caught in headlights.”

When I arrived at Parkland and found a number of black students there, I was surprised! It was a novelty to me. We had athletic stars from Atkins High School – I mean really famous people like James Webster and Ed Joyner. I had at least 12 blacks in my class alone! It was a unique experience. Ever since first grade, I had attended white schools. I was building relationships from the ground up with everyone. I felt as though I was walking a tightrope without a safety net.

I joined several organizations – the French Club, the marching and concert bands, Girls Athletic Association, and others. I was the first black inducted into the National Honor Society, later elected historian. I was voted into the Top 20, participated in all the girls’ sports (the only black female to do so), and wrote the school’s Alma Mater. I felt alone, surrounded by hundreds of people. It was surreal, but I was proud to be a MUSTANG!

It took a while, but I was being invited to go to some of my white classmates’ homes. And since I was taking an Advanced Placement course at Reynolds High School, some of my white classmates were providing ME with transportation.

“The times, they were a-changing!”

Oh, Dear Alma Mater

May God His blessings give to Thee. Thy task is to help us

And be our guide eternally.

We praise thy hallowed halls

Thy widespread fame.

In love, with heads held high,

We praise thy name.

Oh, Dear Parkland High School May God His blessing give to thee.

Oh, Dear Alma Mater,

For thee our proudest banners wave. We march all together

To make us steadfast, true, and brave. A focal point you are,

A beacon ray;

To lead us ever on

Our forward way.

Oh, Dear Parkland High School, For thee our proudest banners wave!

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WS Chronicle

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