Rec Center celebrates grand opening Saturday afternoon

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West Luray Rec Center-sign

~ PVN staff report

LURAY, Sept. 18 — A flag raising and ribbon cutting ceremony are among the events planned for this Saturday at the West Luray Rec Center.

The Rec Center will be celebrating its grand opening with a community block party from 12:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19.

The block party will feature music, face painting, a bounce house, video games, cotton candy and snow cones.

Local resident and pastor Audre King has led renovations efforts at 630 West Main Street over the last few years. The newly revived Rec Center previously served as the Andrew Jackson School for black students prior to desegregation in the 1960s.

On the website LivingLegacyLuray.com, the following background is given for the site:

“The story of Living Legacy begins even before the building of the Andrew Jackson school in 1924.

Black children living in Luray were educated in a one-room schoolhouse prior to 1924.  The black citizens of Luray raised the bulk of the funds in order to construct this building, a Rosenwald school.  A Rosenwald school is named for the former Chairman of Sears, Julius Rosenwald, who partnered with Booker T. Washington to provide schoolhouses througout the South for black children.  This building is one of over 5,000 that were built in the early 20th century.

This school is named for a black businessman and shopkeeper named Andrew Jackson, not to be confused with the more well known president of the same name.

Until the late 1950s black children living in Luray could not graduate high school at the Andrew Jackson school. They had to attend one of several boarding schools for blacks.  Some students from Luray went to a boarding school in Manassas, Virginia.  Others went to DC, New Jersey, New York and other distant locations. It took determination and resolve of both students and parents for black children to graduate from high school.

This is the legacy we wish to memorialize and remember.”

Now, the former school serves as a community rec center for local youth. Saturday’s event celebrates the hard work that has been done in recent years to revive the building and give it new purpose.

This event is free and open to the community.

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