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Memorial would honor North Street School principal

July 22, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

For 37 years, Charles E. Hodges walked the halls of the all black North Street School as principal when Washington County schools were segregated.

Now, more than 27 years after his death, a group of community leaders and some former students are launching a special project to erect a memorial in Hodges' honor at the school he served for more than a third of a century.

"This is a project that is long overdue," said Bill Mason, president of The Clique Club of Hagerstown.

Hodges took over as principal at North Street in 1926. He added grades 11 and 12 to the school shortly after his arrival, and the first full-fledged graduating class was two young women who received their diplomas in 1928.

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One student who completed all 12 years of her education at North Street School was Gloria Weathers Campher.

"I graduated from North Street in 1953," Campher said. Her husband, Maylon Campher, is also an alumnus.

"Mr. Hodges lived in the neighborhood and was like a member of the family to many of us," Campher said. "He always stressed manners and how nice it was to treat others as you wanted to be treated."

But Campher said she also remembered hearing Hodges coming down the hall at North Street jingling the keys in his pockets.

"That's when you knew he was mad about something," she said.

Campher's own children went to integrated schools after North Street closed down. She said she thinks they missed something by not having been influenced by Hodges.

After leaving North Street in 1963, Hodges became the first black administrator in Washington County schools, serving as supervisor of junior high schools until his retirement in 1968.

Hodges died in 1975 at the age of 74.

The original four-room North Street School was built in 1889 on North Avenue. Four rooms were added to that building in 1924, Mason said.

The new North Street School was built in 1947 to serve all black students in Washington County after one-room black schools were closed in Hancock, Beaver Creek, Clear Spring and Williamsport, Mason said.

Letters have been sent to individuals and companies asking for assistance in making the memorial to Hodges a reality, Mason said.

Organized in 1993, Clique Club members came together out of concern for the welfare of children and the community. Since then, the group has undertaken a number of community activities designed to enhance the quality of life in Hagerstown and Washington County, Mason said.

Some previous efforts have included an NAACP scholarship fund, a Christmas party at the Maryland Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown, a Memorial Recreation splash party for kids and contributions to other youth activities.

In addition, the club collected donations for the lettering on the Martin Luther King Jr. building on North Avenue a number of years ago.

Members include Bill and Lily Ann Mason, Wendell and Lela Greene, Herb and Lola Mosby, Stan and Louise Brown, Bob and Bobbie Frederick, and Jerry and Cecilia Crawley.

Donations may be sent to the Charles E. Hodges Memorial Fund, Account No. 163538, Hagerstown Trust Co., 201 Prospect Ave., Hagerstown MD 21740.

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