The Final Bell: Part One

This year's summer break in Gadsden County will be like none before. It's moving time, as James A. Shanks and Havana Northside consolidate to form east Gadsden County High School.

Wednesday, school ended for many Gadsden County students. At Havana Northside some students say they're sad to leave the school, but many others are excited about closing the door on this piece of history, and opening a new chapter in their lives. For the two schools it was truly the "final bell."

It's early morning at Havana Northside and Wilbert Washington is one of the few people on campus. He's been coming to work for more than 30 years, keeping an eye on students, but that will soon change.

Washington is retiring the same day the school closes its doors for good. Havana and shanks high schools are merging to form East Gadsden High School. Though Washington is excited for the students, he's not looking forward to saying good-bye to friends he's made along the way.

"My colleagues and the students that's primarily what I'm going to miss most just to see them grow that had been a very important part of my life. Just to see them be successful and then to see them are back," Washington says.

Washington is not alone. Alonza McBride has been preparing meals for students at Havana since the school opened its doors in 1962, and as a manager he's hired former students, now working for him. He too will retire after this school term.

"I'm going to miss those smiley faces that I see everyday to eat those that come and say Mr. McBride we had a good lunch today those are the things that stick in my mind not name but faces," says McBride.

Lelia Williams is one of the familiar faces that came back to make a difference, teaching at her alma mater.

"It's an honor to want to come back to where I got my roots from in order to give back to my school and my community some of what had been given to me and I hope I've done a great job."

At Shanks High School, it's a familiar theme. Carl Daniels has been at the school for decades, teaching some of brightest minds.

"Our kids have made a difference not only local in the entire world, we're proud we've had some good kids, administration good, this school has been very good," Carl Daniels, a Shanks teacher, explains.

Still, the superintendent says the county has too many high schools with too few students and consolidating shanks and Havana will be cost effective for the county.

Superintendent Sterling Dupont says, "We just don't have enough students in some of our smaller schools so by combing the two schools here again we can better educate our boys and girls a lot better in a much better facility."


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