Monday Night Alive to host panel discussion on integration, former Roanoke School students featured

Published 4:31 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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Monday Night Alive will host a panel-led presentation in late March with a focus on integration. Betty Selby with MNA said that her goal is teach the students that attend the program about how the Roanoke Island Community Building was once an all-black school – Roanoke School – prior to integration.

Beulah Ashby, who attended Roanoke School and will serve on the panel, described her experiences growing up: “I was going into seventh grade when we integrated; transitioning to an integrated school was a lot different.”

Ashby attended Roanoke School from first grade through sixth grade. She said they had three classrooms and three teachers when she went to the school. Ashby described the teachers as “nurturing,” and said Ms. Boone, one of her favorite teachers, was the only one to transfer to Manteo High School after the schools were integrated.

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Dot Drake, another panelist and former attendee of Roanoke School, said the teachers and faculty were all kind and “acted like you were their children.” Drake attended Roanoke School until ninth grade.

Ashby said she felt the students that attended her school were sheltered at that point in time: “We were sheltered from the adversities at other schools as far as color and race.”

Roanoke School did not supply their students with new books and school supplies; books were handed down from the neighboring white schools. However, Drake and Ashby said they had the best lunches at Roanoke School. “She could cook out of this world,” Drake said regarding the chef they had at the time. “There was never a child that did not have a lunch,” Ashby added.

Once integration took place in the 1960s, Ashby said that the teachers and students from both schools were unsure of what to expect. “It wasn’t always an easy transition for students,” Ashby started, “the way they disciplined – everyone was not treated the same.”

Selby hopes the panel-led discussion will shed some light on the sacrifices made by the grandparents of the generation that attends MNA today.

Monday Night Alive is a tutoring service for students attending Dare County schools that is community-based and available for everyone, regardless of income, race or religion. Based out of the Roanoke Island Community Building located at 723 Sir Walter Raleigh Street in Manteo, the program seeks to supply subject-specific tutoring, homework assistance and meals for their students.

MNA meets Monday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit their Facebook page at



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