School museum opens today on Preservation tour

Visitors to Biloxi’s Preservation in May series will see the opening of the state’s first school district museum this afternoon, and will have a chance to meet First Lady Deborah Bryant.

The free program, which takes place from 1 to 3 this afternoon at the Dukate Building on Father Ryan Avenue, will showcase a collection of mementos tracing the history of Biloxi Public Schools.

The collection of memorabilia – class photos, yearbooks and trophies covering decades, photos of school district benefactors, and other items – is a collection that originally began by the late Ruth Hunt and has been organized by presented by school district historian Lee Ann Dubaz.

Also at Thursday’s event will be the presentation of a print to honor Frank Baker, who lived on Deer Island, and, with his four brothers, rowed ashore and walked to school without ever missing a day. He graduated in 1957.

“This school district is part of Biloxi’s rich history,” said Bill Raymond, the city’s historical administrator. “It’s something that some people take for granted, since it’s the school system and it’s part of your everyday life. The fact is, this school system has been around for 150 years. There’s a great deal of history there.”

For Raymond, today’s program is the latest twist in award-winning series of events. The month kicked off with a visit to Cedar Lake Island, where the city’s timber industry was discussed. The next week, the Biloxi High School jazz ensemble entertained on the porch at the Old Brick House on Back Bay.

More than a hundred people have attended each week’s event.

“What I’ve found interesting is that we get a lot of the same people every year, people who are into Biloxi history,” Raymond said. “But the change in format, doing something different has brought out some new people. For instance, the Cedar Lake Island event brought out some new people, people who knew the history of the island and were glad that we were sharing it. Now, those people have been coming back each week. We saw them at the Old Brick House, and I’m sure we’ll continuing seeing them each week this month.

“We got them in the door.”

Chartwell’s, the firm that provides school meals, will provide hors d’oeuvres for today’s event.
See a Facebook photo album from the Old Brick House gathering