A.J. Moore High School alumni gather for all-school reunion

A.J. Moore opened in 1881 as a school exclusively for black students in first through 12th grades. In 1955, other schools were built and A.J. Moore became a high school. It was closed in 1971, when Waco schools were desegregated.
Former A.J. Moore students have a passion for the historical significance of the school and want to keep its name alive. The last school to bear the name was A.J. Moore Academy, a magnet school that consolidated with University High School last year.
Because the name no longer is used on an independent school building, one of the alumni association’s causes is to get another school to be named A.J. Moore.
“This is the last year for A.J. Moore to be known,” said Willie Stanley, who is in charge of food at the reunion this year and is treasurer of the McLennan County Historical Commission.
The alumni association has petitioned the Waco ISD board of trustees to name a school after A.J. Moore, but so far has been unsuccessful.
The topic will be discussed at an
alumni association business meeting this weekend.
Another goal of the alumni association, and especially the reunion, is to raise money for the J.J. Wilson Scholarship, which goes to descendants of A.J. Moore alumni. Wilson was the last principal of A.J. Moore, and many alumni who will return this
weekend remember him fondly.
“He was a stern person,” said Lilla Benson, reunion co-chair. “He believed in discipline, and believe it or not, he could call each student by name. He knew his students, even after he retired and was sick.”
Graduates from across the years will congregate in Waco from Friday through Sunday for a golf tournament, bowling, banquet, memorial service for those who have died since the last reunion, a fashion show and masquerade ball, among other activities. Special emphasis will be placed on the classes of 1962 and 1963, which will be celebrating their 51st and 50th reunions, respectively.
“I am so excited I’m about to lose my mind,” Benson said. “I have classmates that are coming I haven’t seen in 50 years.”
The oldest living graduate also will be in attendance. George Boggess, class of 1930, turned 101 in February and will be traveling from Washington, D.C., with his wife.
Boggess said he loved the high school and is most excited to see the other former students. His fondest memories are of the teachers and administrators of A.J. Moore, including Wilson, who used to try to keep Boggess and other students from eating too many 5-cent hamburgers from the restaurant next to the school.
“We all loved Moore High School because we had wonderful teachers who really cared and wanted us to learn,” Boggess said. “(Williams) really had the interest of the children at heart, and he wanted us to eat right.”
Attendance has dwindled since attendees have gotten older. When the reunions started in 1989, they could draw more than 1,000 people. Nowadays, about 300 to 400 people are expected. But those still well enough to come are eager to reminisce with their former classmates.
“This is a way for us to get together, meet with our friends and talk about our time in high school,” said Claudia Holmes Proxter, registration chair. “We are pretty close-knit. There are some people who have never missed a reunion.”