Thank you Trinity Episcopal School visionaries

Published 12:59 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Rev. Louis O’Vander Thomas worried constantly that the Natchez public schools had no religious teachings in their classes and  were not allowed to recite The Lord’s Prayer.

Taking the bull by the horn, in 1965, he approached several members of Trinity Episcopal Church to start a school for this purpose.  These members included myself (Mary Ann Jones), Ruth Ellen Calhoun, Bernard Wood, Curtis Gibson, Bettina Barnes and Malcolm Raworth.

As this group began to work diligently to collect ideas to form an excellent educational facility they traveled to other Episcopal schools throughout the state to study their pros and cons. Finally this first board of trustees was ready to start a first grade made up of 10 little girls —Ann Jones, Carla Jenkins, Carolyn Cooper, Joie Morrison, Claire Burkley, Norma Gasquet, Beth Little, Courtney Stacy, Jeannie Ballew and Liza Sharp.

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Prior to this, these first grade students had attended kindergarten taught by Teeny Noble and her mother, Margaret Haile. Their first grade teacher was Lois Gore.

During this time, Magnolia Hall was being renovated into classrooms and an office, to which this first grade graduated to the second grade and added four boys — Wheeler Parker, Vidal Davis, Phil Lindley  and Luther Stowers. Each year a new grade was added up to the fifth grade.

During these years you could find Howard  Pritchartt and Ginny Patterson up on scaffolds  building our new school out on U.S. 61 South. The labor was all donated by these two wonderful Episcopal  members.

Once students were transferred to these new buildings, classes  included daily religious devotional by Mr. Thomas, French and Latin taught by Miss Margaret Martin, along  with, of course, all other important required subjects with excellent teachers and, of course, The Lord’s Prayer.

The school library had nothing left to be desired, attributed to Wesley Cooper. This first class of 10 little girls, plus many additional students, graduated from Trinity Episcopal Day School in 1971, most of them with honors to go on to colleges and careers of their choice, taking along beautiful memories of a fine education.

I have included names of those students attending classes in the early days of Trinity, plus the hundreds who followed, the teachers and staff, too countless to name.

All are proud to be alumni of this fine institution of learning.

Thank you, Mr. Thomas!
Mary Ann Jones is a Natchez resident.