HAMPSTEAD, NC - Past met present with a look to the future as a ceremony was held at Topsail Annandale Elementary School to celebrate a new school sign marking a name change that was approved by the Pender County Board of Education.
Surviving students, teachers, staff and administrators of Annandale School were in attendance. Annandale School, built in 1955, was a school for Black students. After it was integrated, the name changed to Topsail Elementary in 1969 and remained until a vote happened on August 9, 2022 to rename the school Topsail Annandale Elementary.
“Today reinstating the name of Annandale School into the Topsail Annandale School is like restoring a major, major part of the history of all of the students, and all the graduates and all the family of this region." said Ambassador Mattie R. Sharpless, a former Annandale student. "You may not really realize but it really, really brings back the heart and soul of all the African-Americans of this region because that’s history. And we are restoring history today.”
Annandale alumnus James Hansley agreed.
“It’s more than a name, it’s history,” Hansley said. “They can have the house, we wanted the name.”
Hansley and Kenneth Keith were instrumental in the name change after repeated visits to the Board of Education meetings where they spoke passionately about the past history of the school and its importance in present day.
Current Board Chair Ken Smith was part of the Board when the decision was made to change the name to Topsail Annandale.
“We need to remember our history and to honor those that came before us and this is exactly what this is — bringing Topsail Annandale that name together so that everyone can see where they came from and hopefully the great future we’ve got in store for us,” Smith said to local television affiliate WWAY.
The new sign was created by students in the Career Technical Education woodworking class at Topsail High School.
Pictures from the ceremony are available here