‘A big family reunion’: West Charlotte High School alums will gather once more on historic campus
When the school year ends on June 8, an era will close at West Charlotte High School: Students this fall will march onto a new, high-tech campus that is being built next door. The current red-brick buildings will be torn down, making room for parking lots and athletic fields.
Before those buildings go, however, generations of West Charlotte graduates will gather April 30 to say goodbye to a historic campus where friendships were forged and young minds were nurished.
As plans for that event take shape, QCity Metro spoke with West Charlotte Principal Donevin Hoskins to talk about West Charlotte’s history and the upcoming “Lion Pride Day.”
Answers were edited for brevity and clarity.
Stay informed with news and events that impact Charlotte’s Black communities.
What can people expect on April 30?
People can expect to see something like a big family reunion – generations of people dating back to those classes of the ’50s, ’60s and last year’s graduates.
I think people can expect to see a lot of meeting, greeting, fellowshipping and reminiscing– just enjoying one last opportunity to be here for an event of this magnitude. This place has been so special for so many for so long. We hope that people who attend can appreciate what we’ve tried to do with that event.
What does this event mean to you?
It’s an opportunity for me, as principal of West Charlotte High School, to celebrate this rich history, show my respect for all the accomplishments of those who’ve gone before me and give others around this community the opportunity to do the same thing.
We’re going to be transitioning out of this historic site, so it would be irresponsible of me, in some regards, not to do something of this magnitude. The idea was born out of a sense of feeling like we owed it to this community to do something special before we transition out of this site.
How have you seen alumni respond to this?
The classes of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s are not as excited (about the move). They’re excited that we’re going to be transitioning to a new school, but there is so much respect and admiration for the West Charlotte High School that they attended and what they got out of their experience here.
I think it’s going to be an emotional time for two reasons: this historic place is going to be going away in some people’s eyes, and we’re going to be moving into another space that’s state of the art and offers a lot of opportunities.
I haven’t been here very long, but I’m looking forward to it because I want to see the reactions that others will have as we move from this place to the new school.
Will it be hard to see this location go?
Yes, it will be hard to see it go because of everything it’s meant to so many for so long. It’s gonna be an emotional experience, even for me. For those people who’ve been in this community all their lives and have experienced this as a student and a parent, it’s going to be an emotional time.
It will be bittersweet because it also represents a change that’s probably been long overdue. But it’s necessary. We want to make sure that the students that attend West Charlotte High School have the same opportunities as everybody else, in a facility that can provide them a quality education, like everybody else.
What becomes of the current campus?
When school opens again, after our summer break, we will be in the new building. This current site will be transitioning to a construction zone.
A number of these historic buildings will be coming down. It will be demolished to make room for athletic fields and parking. That’ll be phase three of this project. Phase one was building the new school. Phase two is the transition and occupying the new school, and phase three is demolishing this space.
You’ve worked at other CMS schools. What makes West Charlotte stand out?
There’s a rich history and a legacy of outstanding leaders that have gone before me as principal here at the school. I think about that because I want to measure up; I want to make sure that my contributions, however small or large, they are measuring up.
I don’t feel it as pressure; I recognize it as making sure that my time here is valued and making sure that my time here feels like contributions are being made. This is a special place, and in the time I’m here, I want to make sure that people feel like I did right by this place.
Being the principal here makes me think about those who’ve gone before me and those who will come after me. What I did while I was here and what I contributed to while I was here is very important to me. It is very evident to me how much people care about this school.
What will the new campus improve education?
We will still be a comprehensive high school. We’ll be teaching the state curriculum and offering a wide range of electives. We polled our students every year to find out what it is that they want us to offer.
We will have the full range of curricula in a state-of-the-art facility. When I say state of the art, it will lack nothing. It will have everything you can imagine for a school as we try to educate our young people.
You mentioned polling students. What do they tell you?
It’s always tied to technology. This is a technological age — they were born into this. If I had to say a percentage, 95% of our students are very savvy when it comes to technology. They communicate using technology, and they learn best using technological platforms. So it’s all about the technology available to them and how can they use it to help them learn. This is what they’re used to and this is what they want, so they’re looking forward to it in our new space.
Editor’s note: To celebrate the history of West Charlotte High, QCity Metro is inviting graduates to share fond memories of life on campus. Email stories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.