By Dave Ongie, News Editor
An overflow crowd flocked to the official opening of the Langston Centre on Sunday afternoon, eager to see the culmination of decades of dreaming and persistence.
The new multicultural center will serve as a bastion of education and service, an opportunity to pass along Langston High School’s rich legacy to future generations.
As chairman of the Langston Education and Arts Development group, Michael Young has been deep in the fight to keep Langston’s mission alive. By virtue of his last name coming so late in the alphabet, Young was the final graduate to receive his diploma from Langston High School prior to its closing at the end of the 1965 school year.
Standing in what used to be Langston’s gymnasium on Sunday, Young was thrilled at the prospect of children having the opportunity to learn and grow in the new center.
“It will be a bridge from a historical past to a bright and unlimited future, ensuring the legacy of Langston will endure and stand the test of time,” Young said.
Adam Dickson will serve as the first director of the Langston Centre, and he is also excited about the potential the center has to impact the lives of those in Johnson City – particularly young people. The building will house programs with the potential to inspire and educate. Tools available include a recording studio, a media lab, a computer lab and learning spaces.
“The history of what this building is, what this building means and what our potential will be must always be first and foremost,” Dickson said.
As Callie Redd spoke on Sunday, she reflected on her earliest memories of Langston. Redd is one of two surviving faculty members who taught at the school, but long before her teaching career began, she arrived at Langston as a wide-eyed 11 year old ready to tackle the seventh grade.
As those wide eyes glanced above the doors upon her entrance, she saw a phrase that changed the course of her life.
“When I came inside of the building, what really got me was the sign over the doors – Enter to Learn, and Depart to Serve,” Redd said.
And so she did. Redd got a college degree before returning to Langston, where she taught until the school closed in June of 1965. She went on to educate, inspire and lead during a long and distinguished career in the Johnson City School System.
One of her students at Langston was a young man named Michael Young, who also also earned his education before going out into the world to serve. That simple call toward education and service is one Young hopes will resonate with young people in Johnson City for generations to come.
“The Langston we knew is no more,” he said. “She’s in our hearts. She’s in our minds. She’s in our memories. As we move forward from this day, may we all strive to achieve and exemplify her motto. Let us enter to learn and depart to serve.”