Hazelwood reunion planned

By Mary Ann Enloe | May 14, 2014
REMEMBERING ROOTS — A portion of the 70 active members of the Hazelwood Civil Defense unit are shown above.From left, front row, are R.L. Saunders, Valery Moody, Peggie Williams, Janie Riggins, Hazel Saunders, Polly Troutman, Margaret Medford, Ethel Kuykendall, Wilsie Sutton, Susie Arrington, Braxton Whitner, Jack Fulbright.Second row. from left: Robert Dotson, Clyde Fisher, Marshall Caldwell, Melvin Underwood, Grady Setzer, Hobert Williams, Oscar Knight, Harold Harris, Frank M. Saunders, Bill Maney, John Yarborough. Back row, from left: F.E. Kuykendall Jr., John R. Smith, the Rev. C.H. Eiland, Tom King, Ernest Fisher, Marion Norman, Charles Trantham.

As part of a way to generate interest in refurbishing the former Hazelwood Elementary School, a school reunion is part of the idea.

Hazelwood Elementary School counts among its alumni international bankers, successful Nashville songwriters and performers, preachers, lawyers, medical professionals, industrialists, politicians and world renowned storyteller Donald Davis.

But most of all, the alumni are the thousands of men and women who made the wheels of Hazelwood's factories turn in the days  when the little town's tax base was the strongest in the county.

Folkmoot USA recently acquired the deed to the school property and the governing board and needs $350,000 to get the building ready for this summer's event.

Folkmoot's two-week festival brings millions of dollars into Haywood County's economy and a knowledge of international culture that is priceless. "Folkmoot is the gift that keeps on giving," said Libba Feichter, a former music teacher at the school.

Long-term plans include a $3 million to $4 million renovation to turn the 40,000 square-foot building into a year-around community center.

The steering committee is unanimous: Folkmoot USA now has the opportunity to expand the heart of Hazelwood across the globe. Partnerships will make that happen, starting with those who care about the old school.

"Hundreds of thousands of people were influenced by this school," said Larry Leatherwood, whose father was the principal of the school. "Their families are going to want to be a part of this historic challenge."

Groups are signing on now to spruce up classrooms in time for the 2014 festival and its invited entertainers from Taiwan, Turkey, Trinidad, Colombia, Russia, Romania, and Hawaii USA, with special performances from Appalachian and Eastern Band of Cherokee cultures.

More volunteer workers are needed. Go to http://www.folkmootusa.org/ for information.

And send your old Hazelwood Elementary School stories, photographs and ideas tohazelwoodschoolmemories@yahool.com or P.O.Box 658, Waynesville, NC 28786.  Follow Folkmoot on facebook.com/FolkmootUSA.

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