By Earnest McBride
Jackson Advocate Contributing Editor
A general class reunion of Vicksburg’s Rosa A. Temple High School alumni is scheduled for September 2-4 at The Holiday Inn and at the former Temple High School, with worship services set for Sunday at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Vicksburg. A meet and greet event will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, at Vicksburg’s Holiday Inn at 115 Cypress Center Boulevard on North Frontage Road. Saturday’s program begins at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Vicksburg Junior High School, the site and modified structure of the former Rosa A. Temple High School, at 1533 Baldwin Ferry Road. The entertainment begins at 8 p.m. in the school gymnasium.
Sunday, September 4, ecumenical worship services will begin at 10 a.m. at Spring Hill Baptist Church, 815 Mission 66. Temple High School opened its doors during the last years of segregated school operations in Vicksburg, beginning in January 1959 until June 1973. Temple was named for the highly respected educator Rosa A. Temple (1869-1972) and was the successor to Bowman High and Magnolia Street School, the first accredited black high school in Mississippi. Temple was a powerhouse in sports beginning in 1966 and won a series of state championships in basketball and football before the final year of 1973.
Besides its widely known sports prowess, Temple was also a well-known center of academic achievement, producing some of the most gifted and highest performing college students in Mississippi. Albert Lassiter, a member of the Tougaloo Nine civil rights team, was a product of Temple High’s Class of 1960. W. C. Gorden, the celebrated former coach of Jackson State University, taught at Temple High and was the athletic director and football coach there in the championship year of 1966. “Temple was the elite black school of Mississippi in both sports and academics,” the now-retired Gorden said from his home in Jackson in 2010. “It was the highlight of my teaching career.
The academic program brought distinction to the school and gave the state some of its best students. The academic excellence carried over onto the sports fields. This sense of pride translated into the spirit of champions. “We had several outstanding players and coaches,” Gorden said. “Among the best known was Bill Triplett, the Temple High quarterback who went on to star as quarterback at Michigan State University from 1968 to 1970. After I left Temple for a coaching job at Jackson State, I left behind a team of coaches who were committed to turning out more championship teams than I had ever dreamed was possible I’m very happy to see some of that stellar Temple High faculty getting the honors they deserve.” A donation of $35.00 is requested to cover the costs of food and entertainment for the reunion. For more information call 601-631-5870 or 601-638-2898. Or email [email protected] bellsouth.net.