COLFAX, N.C. — Colfax Elementary School Principal Julie Kimsey jokes that she’s been in school most of her life.
Kimsey, who has been leading the school for three years, attended Colfax from kindergarten to fourth grade.
“During that time, my mom also worked here. My mom started in the cafeteria, she washed dishes because back then we had real trays and real plates, and real bowls and real forks and spoons, so she worked in the cafeteria then transitioned to work in the main office,” Kimsey said.
Her father also attended, along with aunts, uncles and cousins. Her grandmother, Hazel Gordon, played on the school’s basketball team when Colfax was a first-12th grade school.
“There are still some local families with deep ties to the community, but I think we’ve just gotten broader in our reach, and people are a lot more transitional than they used to be, so they move around a lot more than they do when I was younger,” Kimsey said Wednesday.
Kimsey has gathered memorabilia from more than a century of the school’s history, stored in a history cabinet in the elementary school’s media center.
“[It’s] special to hang on to it when you can I think,” she said.
Alongside photographs, old yearbooks, and her father’s report and library cards, Kimsey has gathered letter sweaters and other keepsakes.
The principal explained how the school has grown and changed from a one-room schoolhouse in the late 1800s. One of the biggest changes came this year, as students learned virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From March to October the building was just quiet, too quiet. When you can hear the systems running, the heat and air conditioning it’s too quiet, we shouldn’t hear that. We should hear feet and activity and laughter and instruction going on so it’s just wonderful having everybody back in the building,” she said.
Kimsey said she’s relieved to be able to continue connecting with students as they return for in-person learning.
“I just have close connections and I think it goes a long way to speak to how much I care for this community and how much I love not only my existing students, but students I haven’t met yet,” she said.
Kimsey continues to track down more history about the school, including the year they switched mascots and school colors.