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Tanner students recall days at historic school

Published: 8:26 AM, 02/12/2013

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Tanner Preservation Committee continues its work to rescue and preserve the historic Tanner School, one of the few Rosenwald Schools remaining in America. Several former students at the institution have shared their memories of their school days there, along with a brief description of their lives afterwards. In observance of Black History Month, the Tanner Preservation Committee has shared several of these autobiographical sketches with us.

Dorothy Nichols Llewellen

In 1961, the Tanner High School graduating class included pretty Dorothy Nichols, who was voted the "Girls with the Prettiest Eye" while a student there.

In 2012, Dorothy celebrate her 70th birthday, and family and friends signed a photo of her taken from the Tanner High annual of that era.

Dorothy still resides in Newport and remembers her days when Professor Rakestraw served as Tanner's principal.


Charles 'Rabbit' Swagerty

Charles 'Rabbit' Swagerty's student days were all spent at Tanner under the direction of Isaac Rakestraw, principal, and such dedicated teachers as "Mr. Douglas, Ms. Franklin, Mrs. Irene G. Smith, and Ms. May Leeper."

He remembers his graduating class consisted of 13 members.

After high school, Swagerty became a teacher and coach, "I have taught all grade levels from kindergarten through college," said Swagerty, "with 42 years of teaching and 32 years of coaching football, wrestling, and track."

He spent six summers as Greeneville, Tennessee's Director of Recreation.

In 2010, he and his wife of 42 years both retired from teaching. They have four children and currently reside in South Haven, Michigan and Greeneville, Tennessee.

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