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When I asked readers to convey their memories of Vaux High School, which until recent years was a junior high, I got many responses. Don Jones said his father taught there. Gail D. Montgomery Watson said both she and her husband taught there. Sylvia R. James Jones said her mother attended the school. Others shared memories of a school and neighborhood that left various impressions on them. Here is a sampling.
Victoria Bostic-Smith – “I have fond memories of the annual school show and the caring teachers I had. Dr. Norman K. Spencer Sr. enlightened us about Civil Rights and encouraged us to join the (1963) march around the Girard College Wall. I had extremely good teachers who taught well. I still remember the Spanish I learned way back then. Did I mention that all of my teachers were African American?”
Maragarita McKissick – “Vaux offered many activities and enrichment courses. I was part of their dance team in 7th & 8th grade. The education was Awesome and the teachers really cared about us. I was there in the early 80’s. Vaux was a lot like Grease to me. I didn’t appreciate the dedication of the teachers until I got to high school. Most of those teachers cared nothing about us. High school teachers (not all) only worked for a paycheck.”
Doreen Bright – “I attended Vaux in the late 60’s and all I remember when I went there is I wanted out. The neighborhood was crazy—you know the gang wars and all that. I wanted to go closer to my home we moved so much my real education came from Fitzsimons. I really do not remember the chess team.”
Juanita Bundy – “I went to Vaux from 1978 to 1980. The chess team was champions then. Vaux was the first all-black school I went to, so for me it was different because it was separated sort of by neighborhoods. However I did learn the academics, the teachers taught you based on you. They were strict, I didn’t realize what Vaux offered me until my children went to junior high school and I started to compare what I learned and where I learned it, what we did and how we did.”
Jhana Arrietta Porter – “I was there 1980-1982. Ms. Veronica Joyner was one of my favorite teachers [Joyner now runs a charter school].
“The chess team was No. 1 in the country at the time. It was a very unique experience for me as I moved from New York where there was diversity in the school with the students as well as the teachers and the neighborhood. So I was a little shell shocked by all the black people. I don’t believe there was a single white student and white teachers were the minority as well. Mr. Devine was the principal and these fools still believed in paddling, I was like WTH!
“I learned a lot. I had a wonderful Spanish teacher Mr. Clemens, he died but I still have really fond memories of him. I had one fight but I think fighting happened frequently … I believe that the education was good because I still remember many of the things they taught me. I barely remember most of my teachers but I remember several from that school. All the teachers I had, the leadership and Non-teaching assistants (NTA’s) seemed to really care. The teachers seemed really passionate and it was contiguous. But that could just have been me.”
Share your memories of Vaux in the comments below: