Parkland auditorium renamed to honor Anderson

Parkland auditorium renamed to honor Anderson
March 10
00:00 2016
Photo by Tevin Stinson
Drama students from Parkland High School perform a skit during the dedication ceremony on Friday, March 5.



Last weekend Flonnie Anderson, a retired English and drama teacher in the system, received a birthday present that she will never forget.

On Saturday March 8, Anderson’s 86th birthday, the auditorium at Parkland High School was renamed to honor Anderson, who taught drama and English for 34 years before retiring in 1989.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday,” Anderson said.

During her tenure with the school system, Anderson taught at Atkins, Anderson and Parkland high schools. In 1970 Anderson broke down racial barriers within the WSFCS when she became the first teacher to direct a production that featured both white and black students following the integration of schools in the late 60s. When asked about desegregating a community, Anderson said she didn’t have any fears before her group of high schools students took to the stage to perform “Take Me Higher,” a piece written by one of her students.

“I knew there would be people who would object, but I didn’t have any reservations,” she continued. “During that time there were some people who would not support desegregation at all and that’s what I told my students.”

The production of “Take Me Higher” wasn’t the first time Anderson used theatre arts to fight segregation in the city. She was also the first black actress to per-form with the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, now the Twin City Stage, located on Coliseum Drive.

During the ceremony, a number of Anderson’s for-mer students took to the stage to talk about how Anderson impacted their lives.

“Mrs. A was a real perfectionist who expected nothing but the best from her students,” said Chris Thore, a former drama student of Anderson’s.

“She was more than a teacher, she taught us lessons that will last a lifetime, like how to carry ourselves and how to treat each other.”

A number of former students who went on to become teachers them-selves said Anderson played a major role in their decision. Teresa Hairston said Anderson was one of her role models growing up.

“Just the way she would carry herself and treat everyone with respect, I wanted to be just like her,” she said. “I still look up to her to this day.”

Mayor Allen Joines spoke during the dedication ceremony as well. He also presented Anderson with a plaque marking the historic event. Joines led an effort to have the auditorium named for Anderson. Mayor Joines said after writing a letter to the school board, the members voted unanimously in favor of the renaming.

“She is a great role model for young people throughout the city of Winston-Salem,” said Joines.” I am honored to be here today on this joyous occasion.”

During the ceremony, students from the drama program at Parkland performed a skit. The skit addressed overcoming stereotypes and racism. Following the performance, Anderson rose to her feet and shouted, “This is what it is all about.”

When asked about her many accomplishments on and off the stage over the years, Anderson said she is happy that throughout her life she was able to do something that she truly loved.

“I never imagined that something like this would happen to me,” she said. “I was just doing what I loved and what I thought was right. I am truly grateful to everyone who made this possible.”

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