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Carver alumni teach students perseverance, history in new book

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From left: Isaac Ravizee, author; Dr.Charles Willis, principal of CHS; Georgia McCoy-O'Neal, author; Barbara Thomas-Goudy, president of CHSNALC; Sarah Williams-Nettles, author; Candace Fisher Hill, alumni member; Dr. Clifto Latting, author of records. (Provided photo)

Ariel Worthy

The Birmingham Times

From left: Isaac Ravizee, author; Dr.Charles Willis, principal of CHS; Georgia McCoy-O'Neal, author; Barbara Thomas-Goudy, president of CHSNALC; Sarah Williams-Nettles, author; Candace Fisher Hill, alumni member; Dr. Clifto Latting, author of records. (Provided photo)
From left: Isaac Ravizee, author; Dr.Charles Willis, principal of CHS; Georgia McCoy-O’Neal, author; Barbara Thomas-Goudy, president of CHSNALC; Sarah Williams-Nettles, author; Candace Fisher Hill, alumni member; Dr. Clifto Latting, author of records. (Provided photo)

George Washington Carver High School’s (CHS) theme for this school year is “be great.” Some of the school’s alumni have advice for the current students on how to live out their school’s theme for the rest of their life.

“We went through the same things they are going through, and with perseverance and the help of the community, they can make it through successfully,” said Sarah Nettles, a member of the Carver High School National Alumni Association Legacy Committee (CHSNALC).

A group of CHS alumni published “Team of One: Encouraging Stories from Past Graduates of George Washington Carver High School in Birmingham.” “Team of One” is a collection of autobiographies from 31 graduates from CHS, where they explore the challenges they faced and how the community, church and their school helped them overcome them. The book also gives a history of black people, dating back to 3,000 B.C. and a brief history of the Collegeville neighborhood, where CHS originally resided was included in Team of One history.

“One thing missing from our education – when you look at the social studies books and history books, it begins with slavery – is our actual history,” said Dr. Clifton Latting, author of records and one of the co-writers for “Team of One.” “Black history goes back way beyond slavery,”

Latting, who graduated from CHS in 1964, consulted with professor DaReef Jamison at University of Alabama at Birmingham for the historical perspective.

“Our history is a grand history, and if our young people knew about our history and how great we as black people are, we would not be fighting each other, calling each other names and disrespecting one another,” Latting said. “It’s really due to a lack of knowledge of our magnificent history.”

CHS’s principal, Dr. Charles Willis, is looking to make the book part of the Freshman Academy. Having the students read the book during the beginning of their high school career is a great way to induct them, he said.

“We need to hold these conversations about where our students are, the things they are facing, and the opportunities they have to get out of their situations with a little perseverance,” Willis said. “I think it can give them a vision and a sense of hope in where they are to accomplish great things.”

The CHSNALC hopes that students will understand that respect must be given in order to succeed. A common thread in “Team of One” is that you can’t be successful unless you have the entire team.

“You have to have the home with great parents, the church – which is the missing link for many students today – and of course, the schools,” Isaac Ravizee, one of the authors, said. “If students are being taught properly at home and church, it takes a lot of the load off the schools,”

Last month, “Team of One” was unveiled at the G.W. Carver National Alumni’s annual picnic. Over 500 alumni and 25 classes represented their high school. This was also the first year the picnic was held at CHS; in the past it was held at North Birmingham Park. Barbara T. Goudy, president of the Carver’s National Alumni Association said the picnic was the perfect time to unveil the book.

“Usually at the park everyone is all spread out and not really close, but this year with it being on the grounds, whether your class was from the ‘60s or 2016, we were connected,” Candace Hill, an alumnus said. “It was like everybody was able to see everybody and the entire school and its history was together.”

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