Former Students Say Goodbye to Beach High Building - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Former Students Say Goodbye to Beach High Building

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People are singing a song they learned years ago but all present remember the words. "Dearest school so true," the voices say. It's a group of more than 100 people gathered to say goodbye to a piece of Savannah history and a piece of their own personal history. Alfred Ely Beach High School which opened in 1950 is facing the wrecking ball. A new school has been built on the grounds to the tune of $42 million.

Today those who attended Beach over the years wanted to be here. That included Sharon and Michael Stewart who graduated in 1974 and 1973. They became sweethearts at Beach. "It's heartbreaking," says Mrs. Stewart. " I know before it's done I will be shedding a few tears."

"There are a lot of memories here," echoes her husband.

Alumni from young to old gathered to watch their collective history crumble. "A lot of great people have walked through these doors," said Beach High Principal Derrick Muhammad. He says the new state of the art facility is great, but today's students must strive to achieve as so many before them.

Dr. Lester Johnson who had his first teaching job at Beach 63 years ago couldn't agree more. "education is the solution to every problem," he told me. "And I'm just so proud to see those who came through under my mentorship, city councilmen, three mayors of Savannah, members of the County Commission."

One of his former students is Clifton Jones, who served as a Savannah City Alderman for years. MAN CLIFTON JONES. "I'm glad to see a new school coming. We were happy and elated when we moved into this one so long ago," Jones told me.

Muhammad says Beach has endured some difficult days, including a state ordered reorganization several years ago. Much of the staff and principal at that time were replaced. And Muhammad came in expecting to face challenges but determined to improve test scores. "There are still a lot of challenges and even though we're moving into a new building, the challenges are still there.," he told us. "The students are excited and ready to come back into this new building, we'll still be pushing forward academically, we'll still be making our academic gains each year.

And former students like the Stewarts say it's a bittersweet day. Yet they promise to keep supporting the school and the students who need help now.

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