Community members gather to restore historic school

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 11:41 PM CST
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Panama City, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A historic elementary school in one Bay County community could soon be restored.

Thursday night, members of the Patterson Oversight Committee held a meeting to discuss the future of the elementary school in Springfield.

At one time, Oscar Patterson Elementary School was the only Black elementary school in Bay County.

Several members spoke on the influence the school has on the community and why they feel it should be reopened as an elementary school by the 2021-2022 school year.

“We want Oscar Patterson to be reopened and we want it to thrive and be the school we know it has the potential to be,” said Bay County Area NAACP Chapter President and Patterson Oversight Committee member Dr. Rufus Woods.

“The success of Patterson impacts the entire community, the economy, everything. It gives us pride and spirit to know that we have a home school that is thriving and our students are being successful,” said Patterson Oversight Committee Vice Chair Tia Wilson.

“It’s going to be a good thing for this community to have this school reopen even as a K-2 going up to K-5. Because it will keep the children in the community. That’s the most valuable thing, keeping your children in the community which they grew up in. Giving them something when they grow up they can look back on,” said Patterson Oversight Committee Member James Barker.

Recently, Woods spoke with Bay District School’s Superintendent Bill Husfelt on plans to re-open the historic elementary school.

A recommendation was discussed to be presented Tuesday, January 26th to the Bay District School Board to reopen Oscar Patterson Elementary as a K-2 school in August 2022, adding a grade level each consecutive year until k-5 status is achieved.

The next Patterson Oversight Committee meeting will be held February 18th, where a new timeline will be discussed on when community members could see the estimated completion of the redevelopment of the school.

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