Often what keeps a community (or a business, family or school system) great is taking time every so often to remember what brought it to where it is. Monroe County has a lot of daily heroes who stand tall in the minds of those who know them. Bill Querry, longtime Monroe County principal, was one of those heroes, but he is more interested in honoring all those who stood beside him.
Querry realized a two-decade dream of having a reunion party for all the people who worked with him during his tenure at Monroe County Schools on May 4. The reunion was at the Hubbard Elementary School gym, and the large gym filled every available seat.
Querry and a hard-working committee of eight (Dr. Nancy Brunson, Oreatha Sewell, Raycene King, Betty Merritt, Janice Winters, Melody Wilson, Kathy Buckley and his wife, Virginia Querry) identified eight groups of people who had worked with Querry to invite: certified teachers, assistant and substitute teachers, receptionists and secretaries at the school and central office, bus drivers, custodial/maintenance and lunch room staff, PTA officers, nurses and office assistants. Querry said that all of these people worked together to help Monroe County Elementary, Hubbard Elementary and Hubbard Primary Schools serve their students during the 30 years he was principal (1968-98).
“You and I were on the same stage. You played your roles so well it gives me goosebumps,” said Querry. “That’s why I’m hosting this reunion today.”
He had copies of the 1970-71 Hubbard Elementary School handbook to share with those who were involved with the school at that time, as the white and black school systems in Monroe County consolidated. There were also copies of “Hubbard is Your School” for the group to sing together.
“May I have your attention, please…May I please have your attention,” Querry said, recreating a call that those in attendance had heard many times. “I really can’t tell you how thrilled I am you’re here today. You gave me the greatest send-off with the ‘Ramblin’ Wreck!’ I’m sorry it took me 21 years to get back to honor you.”
“There was always a spirit of family coming from Hubbard Elementary School,” said current HES Principal Jay Johnston. “You set the standard. This is a ‘thank you;’ Hubbard is so much more than brick and mortar. You guys are the ones that laid that foundation. Welcome home!”
Querry said the brick and mortar of Hubbard Elementary is actually pretty amazing, too. He said he has visited a lot of schools and not many are as well laid out, built and attractive as HES.
“When they decided to build a new primary school, we asked for a lot more than we thought we’d get, but there was everything we asked for,” said Querry. “Can you believe a gym like this in a primary school?”
From thinking about the new school where Querry served his last three years as principal and where the reunion on May 4 was held, Querry reminisced about the first time he met with the teachers at Hubbard to talk with them about the schools consolidating and his becoming their principal.
“They felt as if they would lose their school. I felt the unique feeling in the building; it was a motivating force for me,” said Querry. “I always liked the Tiger. That mascot captured what we wanted to happen to our students.”
Querry said Pauline Walker Moore captured the spirit of the Tiger for him, and he had her illustrate her walk across the front of the gym. Querry said the first time he saw Moore, he saw the essence of the Tiger in her smile, confidence and step. It showed someone who knows who she is and what she’s all about, just like the Tiger.
Sandy Watson, now the music teacher at K.B. Sutton Elementary, talked about being hired by Querry and her first years of teaching for him as her principal. He guided her and supported her through some times when she thought he might not keep her. Now when she goes to Walmart, she sees students and parents who make her feel “like a rock star.”
Watson sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings” for Querry and said “What a privilege to have an impact on thousands of students!”