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|Huntington closing doors after 40 years|
It's official. Huntington School is closing its doors.
"We've reached the end of a long road," said Huntington School Board President Steve Edwards. "Unfortunately for us and the community, the student population is not there to support this school financially. We did everything possible and searched every avenue with the support of the community. With the situation the way it is, it would be an injustice to try and continue under these circumstances."
On January 21, 1970, the Citizens Committee for Quality Education (CCQE) called on the people to support Huntington Schools, Inc., a non-profit organization formed to establish a private school in the Ferriday area.
The CCQE was formed in June of 1969 and chairman Dr. J.E. Blunschi said at the time that, "private schools, although not the answer for the majority of the people, would be advocated as a last resort."
Huntington School opened it doors at the Sevier Methodist Church on Feb. 10, 1970, to 10 students in classes one through 11.
In September of 1970, Huntington opened at its present location after Howard Peabody of Natchez donated the land behind Woodland Subdivision and the school was built for $85,000.
More than 600 students enrolled in the first full year of Huntington School in 1970. Ernest Davis was the first principal, while B.U. (Billy) Miller was the first president.
First-year teachers included Richard Alwood and Joey Paul.
"I think the school answered a need for a lot of people for a lot of years who wanted an alternative as far as academics," Alwood said. "I have a lot of pleasant memories from working there, just as I do with the public school. It's sad, but it's kind of a sign of the times. I just hope things work out for the kids there now."
Registration fee was $40 when the school opened in the spring of 1970 and each student paid a $300 membership fee.
The tuitional cost was $350 per year per student for grades on through eight. Registration for high school was being taken for the 1970-71 school year for the probability of a high school and tuition depended on the number of students enrolled
In the fall of 1970, registration fee was $40 and tuition was $450 a year for elementary school and $500 for high school.
On September 14, 1970, the school opened at its present location and more than 600 students enrolled.
Many parents volunteerd to buy their child's desk for $10.
Huntington assistant principal Emily Guida, who is the niece of Miller, has been with the school since 1978.
"I'm sorry this is happening," Guida said. "We understand why this can't go on, but there will always be a Huntington School that strived for excellence. Huntington has meant so much to so many people and to my family. Huntington was an important part of our lives and did a wonderful job of preparing our children for the future."
Penny Moak, who retired as a teacher and coach last year, and her husband Dr. Huey Moak and their three daughters graduated from Huntington.
"It's really sad," Penny said. "It's the end of an era. There are so many good memories."
Gerald and Janet Vaught were part of the first class at Huntington. Their son and daughter also graduated from the Ferriday school.
Gerald was a member of the first state championship team at Huntington and one of the first to sign an athletic scholarship, going on to play football at Mississippi State and in the NFL. Gerald also served as head football coach at the school.
"I got chill bumps hearing that," Vaught said. "My deal all along has been what is best for the school. Being a part of athletics as I have been in the past, it killed me to see the athletic program deteriorate over the years. I know what the academics were like and I thought that had started to suffer. Huntington has been instilled in my life for so long that it's like losing a family member. But things change and people have to move on."
Janet Vaught said the news really hasn't set in for her.
"I think the first time I look at the sports section and there is no Huntington score it's going to hit me," Janet said. "But the school has produced lawyers, doctors, politicians and given everyone a great education."
Lesley Hanna Capdepon, general manager of the Concordia Sentinel, is a 1981 graduate of Huntington, the largest class to ever graduate from the school and the first class to attend first grade through twelfth.
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