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This paintings of the Grays Chapel School by Louis Brady will be on sale at the 100th anniversary celebration. 

Grays Chapel School turns 100

GRAYS CHAPEL — It may be a small school but it’s large in the eyes of those who spent their formative years at Grays Chapel.


Now, 100 years after its founding, the crossroads center of learning is ready to celebrate. The big event is planned for Saturday, March 23, from 3-7:30 p.m.


Jennifer Macfayden and April Wood have been the primary organizers of the 100th anniversary. Both are staff members and Wood attended the school as a student. They plan to include everyone involved with Grays Chapel, including alumni, past staff members, current employees and today’s students.


Wood said a history book of Grays Chapel was put together at the school’s 85th anniversary. From that she gleaned such important details as:

— The school was organized in 1924 as a consolidation of six small schools. Those schools were Cross Roads, Grays Chapel, Hardin, Lineberry, Melanchton and Millboro. Consolidation was approved by a combined vote of the patrons.

— The Reggie H. Underwood family donated land for the school and more acreage was purchased from the Cates family, for a total of 4.5 acres. The school building was brick and contained seven classrooms, a Home Economics Department, an office, two restrooms and an auditorium. Construction delays pushed back the opening of classes to Dec. 7, 1925.

— Grades one through eight were taught the first year with another grade added each year until there was a standard 11-grade high school. The number of years increased to 12 in 1947. Accreditation came in 1931. 

— The first graduating class was in 1929 with five students earning their diplomas. They were Bruce Pugh, Kathleen Pugh, Jack Pugh, Edith Lineberry and Maza Hackett. 

— Tragedy struck Grays Chapel on the night of May 15, 1973, when a devastating fire leveled the 1925 brick building. However, Wood said, only one day of classes was missed, when the gym and another building were converted into schoolrooms.

— The next year — 1974 — not only did normal studies resume, but the school added two kindergarten classes. Today, there are 460 students in 24 classrooms, from kindergarten through fifth grade.


So now it’s time to celebrate. The event is open to the public, but particularly invited are all those who have either worked at the school or attended classes there. Everyone is encouraged to let others know of the festivities.


The excitement will kick off at 3 p.m. with food, tours of the school, a silent auction, displays of memorabilia, the naming of the Blue Hawk mascot, face painting and more. Available for purchase will be Grays Chapel history books, Blue Hawk keepsake ornaments and paintings of the school by local artist Louis Brady.


At 6:30 p.m., there will be a ceremony with kindergarten and first graders singing to the guests. Organizers will recognize former and current Grays Chapel administrators, staff, students and special guests. There will be readings by second to fifth graders on the topic “What Does Grays Chapel School Mean to Me?” Danielle Kesler will read her poem, “Happy Birthday Grays Chapel.”


A live auction will begin at 7 p.m. Of special interest will be charcuterie boards, one from each classroom, with signatures of the students in the class. These one-of-a-kind keepsakes will be up for bids.


Proceeds from sales will go to the Grays Chapel Playground Fund.


For more details on the celebration, go to the Grays Chapel Elementary School Facebook page or visit Home - Grays Chapel Elementary School (randolph.k12.nc.us).