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‘Living Legacies’ remembered

Titans of GTMS researched their school, its founder

Decades before the young Titans of Georgie D. Tyler Middle School today could enjoy learning in their building, there existed a smaller, but no less important place of learning — a high school named after the renowned educator.

In the lobby there is a large display that highlights not only Tyler’s history but also memorabilia related to the first school, such as photographs of the graduating classes, a bell and trophies.

Until desegregation in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the high school was populated only by Black students.

This display, “Living Legacies,” also features large portrait photographs of alumni accompanied by reminiscences. Bernice Bolling said, “Our teachers taught us to be tough, to strive to be better, and always encouraged us to get our education.”

Mike Banks stated, “Although we may not have had what others had, we had faith enough to keep going. We didn’t stop.”

The project is the culmination of research and interviews performed by GTMS students of seventh-grade English teacher, Jennifer Hartman.

The idea, she said, came from the central office.

“Georgie Tyler has a rich history. The kids did a lot of digging. First they found out about Georgie the person and they went from there. We took the students to a Black history museum in Richmond.”

Carla Duck helped in arranging for interviews of alumni, and these were recorded by Jessica Travis of the school. David Elliott of the school division is credited for the oversize photographs.

All was ready last spring for a presentation, but then COVID-19 halted everything.

“So no assembly was possible. We were going to do a dinner and program,” said Hartman.

“The kids worked really hard and the community really came together. Everyone got super invested. It was a very enlightening experience.”