Saving a relic from the rubble

Back off the road apiece on McKoy Street sits a red brick structure that has been home to thousands of youngsters through the years, a place where education was instilled and principles were preached. It remains a property filled with memories and steeped in tradition and history.

At one time it was majestic, but today it’s mostly run-down, a mere skeleton of what it once was and what we hope it will be again.

We’re not the only ones. Alumni of the old Sampson High School (which, at one time, was also home to Sampson Middle School) want to see the structure restored to its luster, turning the now run-down facility into a community resource center and, at the same time, saving a tremendous piece of the city and the county’s history.

There is nothing sadder than seeing history crumble around itself, a relic slowly turning into rubble. While Sampson High School isn’t there yet, without some tremendous love and care — and the finances necessary for restoration — it’s not that far away.

Enter the Sampson High School Alumni Association, the city of Clinton and the Clinton Historic Preservation Commission, all who are partnering to offer a half-day free workshop designed to spark community interest in restoring the historic facility.

Using an apropos title, “Importance of Place Workshop: Ole’ Sampson School Matters,’ the groups are hoping to draw people to the workshop and then, by virtue of the lessons taught there, open their eyes to the importance of preserving the school and motivating them to want to be a part of doing so.

The workshop will be held from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Sampson Center Gym on Barden Street in Clinton, and the entire community is invited to be a part.

That is especially true of those who live in the areas of McKoy and Barden streets, individuals who should want to see the school that resides in their neighborhoods become a highlight of their community rather than an eyesore. It’s true, too, of alumni of the school, all who should want to return to the school some of that which they’ve taken.

But it’s not something that should be pigeon-holed to those neighborhoods alone. The old Sampson High School is a part of this county’s great heritage, a piece of history we should all be interested in restoring. And that means we all have a vested interest in seeing that the school receives as much TLC as possible.

It starts with taking interest in the workshop, attending if you are able and listening to the reasons why it’s important to do more than simply hang on to the structure. And it ends with making a commitment to helping restore it, giving of your time, talents and/or money as you are able.

The old Sampson High School restoration project is about more than bricks and mortar. It’s about history and heritage, it’s about community and it’s about saving something that is most definitely worth holding onto.

The Alumni Association is taking the lead, as they should, but they cannot do it alone. They need the help of others.

We see the school’s restoration as important. We hope others will too.

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