Rev. Frank Hughes, Jr.
 
Jim and Joe in Elementary, Junior and Senior High School
Pictured above is Building 1 of the three buildings which were part of the Rena B. Wright Elementary School.  Buildings 1 and 2 originally served as South Norfolk High School, until the new one was built on Holly Street in 1930.
An August 1954 photo of Building 3 (below), first used as the Rena B. Wright Elementary School;buildings 1 and 2 were the high school, until the new one built in 1930.
Building 1, South Norfolk High School:
Building 1 (on right) and Building 2 (on left in next photo); Building 1 served as the first South Norfolk High School.
Newly completed South Norfolk High School, 1930, with Trolley Tracks in street:
When the new Oscar F. Smith High School was built on Rodgers Street, the old high school on Holly Street became the Truitt Junior High School, named for Miss Dorothy Truitt, seen in two early photos, below:
From Dorothy Truitt's college annual:
Miss Rena B. Wright:

In June 1921, a group of South Norfolk residents believed Rena Belle Wright's time had come.

They went to the School Board to back Wright's appointment as principal of the high school. Another group wanted a man to fill the job.


Wright had been educating children in Portlock and South Norfolk since the late 1800s and had led the school. Her supporters thought she had the experience to do the job.


"Even though Miss Wright was more experienced, in those days, it was strictly a man's world and the board voted to hire Mr. Grover Cleveland Outland," local author and historian Raymond L. Harper wrote in his book, "History of South Norfolk, 1661-1963."


Wright was appointed assistant principal.

She didn't get the job, but her name lives on at Rena B. Wright Primary School at 600 Park Ave.


From what Harper remembers, Wright often filled in as principal and taught Latin and other subjects decades before Chesapeake became a city.


"She was a thin, short little lady and she always wore a dress that came down to her ankles," Harper said recently.


Wright wore a wig and commanded respect, Harper said.


"Today, being a grown person, I say she was strict, but back in those days, all of us said she was meaner than 'H,' " Harper said.


A self-described good student, Harper said he never personally learned about Wright's no-nonsense style when he attended the South Norfolk Grammar School in the 1930s.


"She was in charge, and you didn't want to face her at all," Harper said. "That little lady, she could handle the biggest guy there was."


Not much else is known about Wright. At age 16, she came to Hampton Roads from Bowling Green to serve as a governess to the children of a family in the Brambleton area and served as a tutor for a doctor's children, Harper wrote.


She taught in the Portlock School and spent more than 45 years educating children in South Norfolk.

She retired, according to Harper, in 1942 and moved into her sister's home on Rhode Island Avenue in Norfolk's Colonial Place neighborhood.  The sister, Annie Wright Moore, was a widow, and she died at age 86, in 1959.


Wright died in March 1946 at age 78, according to her obituary published in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. It summed up her career this way: "In the course of these years, she taught most of the leading citizens of the Southside, as well as the children of many of them."


The first school building named for Wright was built in 1900 and stood at 20th and B streets, according to a newspaper account from the late 1960s.   It consisted of three brick buildings.  A new school was built and the school that now carries her name was dedicated on Oct. 24, 1971.

Some of our Teachers at
Rena B. Wright,
Truitt Junior High,
and Oscar F. Smith High School:
Mrs. Louise Kelley, Rena B. Wright
Elementary School Art Teacher, which met in the basement of Building 3.

Mills Arnold March,
7th Grade History
(Joe had 7th and 8th Grades at Truitt Junior High School).

Mrs. Louise Garrison,
7th Grade Science

Joe's 6th Grade Class, he is 2nd row, 3rd from left; Rita Elliott (Hughes) is on top row, 2nd from right:
Mrs. Tatem was one of Jim's Elementary School Teachers
Mr. Nagy was Joe's 9th Grade Science Teacher. Joe is on the left in the next picture:
Jim's Band Teacher
Joe's 8th Grade Math Teacher
Joe's 8th Grade Geography Teacher
Mrs. Sallie Bunch,
Elementary and Junior High School Substitute Teacher

Mrs. Flora B. Howell,
8th Grade Home Room and English

Joe had Miss Margaret West for Senior English.
Jim had Miss Marion West for 7th Grade.

Miss Marion West, Jim's Teacher
Miss Margaret West,
Joe's Senior English
Teacher
Joe's first semester Typing Teacher was Mrs. Stalls; Mrs. Frazier was his second semester Typing Teacher.
Joe and Rita's High School Biology Teacher
Mrs. Lottie Waters,
Joe's 9th Grade History Teacher

Mr. Joseph Wisniewski, Joe and Rita's
Senior Humanities Teacher

Humanities Classroom Library included the "Great Books of the Western World"
Mrs. Dolores Grimstead, Joe's
History and Government Teacher

Mrs. Emma Holloman, Jim's High School Biology Teacher
Jim's Spanish Teacher
J. William Ethridge
Principal, Oscar Smith High School
Winston P. Lewis
Assistant Principal
Oscar F. Smith High School
Jim and Joe both worked with WFOS-FM. In this 1963 picture, Jim is on back row, 4th from the left; Joe is on 2nd row, right end:
Joe (top row, left) in this 1966 picture of the students who worked with WFOS-FM:
Joe's first grade class on steps of Building 3. Miss Jane Harris was the teacher. Joe is standing on top row, right.
Joe Hughes and Rita Elliott's 5th Grade Class, with Mrs. Lucy Holland, teacher:
On the third floor of Building 1, was an auditorium with seats and a stage with a projection screen.  One of the annual events the boys (especially) looked forward to was the "Snake Show" wherein a anthropologist came and showed several live snakes as a teaching lesson.  Other times, the auditorium was used for intelligence testing, instruction on how to use the dial telephone, and to watch educational films.
Here are some of the instructional films, now in public domain, that we saw.  They instilled character and development in the students.  The values they taught are still applicable.  One that was especially remembered by many students was the one "Duck and Cover."  Several classmates still talk about that one.
Tommy and Michael King lived down in the same block on Chesapeake Ave, and were friends of Jim and Joe.  We had the same interests in Chess and Tactics II board games, and Medieval History.  Their mother Cleo was a good artist and worked as a secretary for Chesapeake Ave Methodist Church.  We used to play in their backyard. Jim and Joe learned to draw their own Tactics board game on poster board and cut out the pieces for movement on the board.
Kenny Baker was one of Jim's best friends who lived one block from us on Chesapeake Ave.
Richard Johnson was another good friend of Jim's.  Jim shared the Gospel with Richard, who made a profession of faith at South Norfolk Baptist at one Sunday night service.
Richard Johnson?
Arnold Freeman (pictured here) and his sister Cheryl, lived in our block around the corner and played with Jim and Joe.
Stevie White was another good friend of Jim's.
Raymond Jones was one of Joe's best friends in school.  They were both in WFOS-FM.
David Harrell was another good friend of Joe's. He was in the Boy Scout's at South Norfolk Christian, in Royal Ambassador's, and the Youth Choir at South Norfolk Baptist.
The new Rena B. Wright Elementary School and dedication program.
Rev. Frank Hughes, Jr. gave the Benediction at the Dedication.