Port Royal Elementary an anchor for 100 years

Where could history be more alive than in a small community's elementary school?

Port Royal Elementary School will celebrate its 100th anniversary this weekend. Visitors can see murals in the hallways documenting its past, but also "friend" its Facebook page called "Port Royal Elementary School: A Century of Learning."

All community members, especially former students, are invited to attend a celebration at the school at 3 p.m. Saturday. People are urged to bring photographs or other pieces of history with them. Highlights of school history, including the era of desegregation, will be discussed.

All the effort over all the years in this school on Paris Avenue has been directed at a brighter future.

As a result, the school has always been an anchor in a seaport town whose history includes a settlement that predates St. Augustine, Fla., and Plymouth Rock. Through feast and famine, hurricanes and heat, old math and new, Port Royal Elementary has helped hold the community together.

A number of times over the years, and as recently as last month, the school has been on the chopping block because of its size. Yet the little school wins the state's top honors and has met the tough federal requirements for "adequate yearly progress" for the past three years.

The school celebration helps us appreciate anew that history is a living thing in Beaufort County.

On Friday, the Historic Port Royal Foundation will present "Port Royal Past, Present and Future," with speaker Chris Marsh, at 7 p.m. at Union Church.

Recently, the Naval Hospital in Port Royal announced plans to work with other groups to give the public greater access to historic sites on its land.

The city of Beaufort continues its tricentennial celebration. The city is working with the private sector to enable City Hall space to be used to showcase some of the assets of Beaufort's museum. And the Historic Beaufort Foundation is offering new ways to appreciate history at its Verdier House on Bay Street.

Several observations are scheduled around the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Port Royal, which changed the course of history in a single November day at the outset of the Civil War. The Coastal Discovery Museum and Lowcountry Civil War Round Table will be sponsoring a four-day series of lectures, tours, re-enactments and a theatrical presentation Dec. 1-4 on Hilton Head Island. And the Port Royal Plantation homeowners will be host a free commemoration of the battle at Fort Walker on Nov. 5.

Every teacher dreams that each pupil will become a lifelong learner. Port Royal Elementary School's 100th anniversary is a chance to celebrate learning by generations of children. It is also a chance to celebrate lifelong learning in a fascinating community where history lives.