The Cooper Heritage Alumni Association and Star of Bethlehem Lodge No. 111 collaborated to present the first William Mason Cooper High School Exhibition and Reception at The Clayton Center.
For the first time since the closing of William Mason Cooper High School, the Clayton community could view an exhibition of class photos, trophies and school artifacts from 1929 to 1969. Former classmates, teachers and friends of the school had the opportunity to walk down memory lane.
“William Mason Cooper High School was a vital part of our lives growing up in the Clayton community,” said John W. Smith Jr., president of the Cooper Heritage Alumni Association.
It was a great honor to have the school’s history displayed at The Clayton Center, said Jean Sandaire, a member of Star of Bethlehem Lodge No. 111. “I have three children who attend Cooper Elementary School; my wife teaches at the same school,” he said. “My two sons were really impressed by the trophies and pictures of the William Mason Cooper High School basketball teams.”
At the reception, Clayton Councilman Butch Lawter presented a letter from Mayor Jody McLeod to Lodge No. 111 and the Cooper Heritage Alumni Association. The letter commended the two groups on their collaboration.
The “photos and mementos serve as a reminder of a former time and are an opportunity for family and friends to reconnect and share the stories of past accomplishments,” the mayor wrote,
Lodge No. 111 presented a plaque to Joseph Whitley, credited with saving many of the photos and artifacts from the high school.
Three of Cooper’s oldest students – Annie W. Shand, 88, Geraldine Smith, 89, and Rosa L. Watson, 87 – shared their experiences of growing up in Clayton and attending William Mason Cooper High School.