Purvis is setting an example

February 21, 2002

Purvis is setting an example

Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a week-long series during National Black History Month recognizing blacks in the area who make a difference in their communities.

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

Barry L. Purvis was in the fourth grade when his family moved from Chambersburg to the rural Franklin County community of New Franklin, Pa.

Purvis, 46, principal of Chambersburg Area Middle School, remembers going to his new elementary school for the first time.

"I was the only black in the school," he said.

He said he believes the only reason he was accepted by his fellow students was because of his interest in and ability at sports.

"I left a school where most of the black students went in Chambersburg and I was put into a new culture," he said.


"Because of sports, I was a hero in some of the kids' minds in the new school," he said

"I learned to keep my nose clean and to work hard. I was class president in (Chambersburg Area Senior) high school for three years, and that's something in a school with 600 or 700 students," he said.

The district's minority student population is about 14 percent black or Hispanic. The Hispanic population is growing in the community, Purvis said.

Purvis said he's the only minority administrator in a public school system with 21 schools.

He said he believes that he's making a difference in his community.

"I try to be an example for all minorities in the school district," he said. "When they see me, they know they can make something of their lives, that it can happen even in a small town like Chambersburg."

Purvis said he is particularly proud that Chambersburg Middle School has a good shot at being named a Blue Ribbon School.

He grew up in Chambersburg, graduated from the local high school and earned his bachelor's degree from what is now East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University. His master's degree came from Shippensburg (Pa.) University and he's completing his doctoral thesis from Widener University outside Philadelphia.

Purvis coached the Chambersburg Area High School girls basketball team for 14 years.

He and his wife, Joyce, have two grown children.

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