Students get glimpse of history thanks to donation

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By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor

Students at Etowah High School had an opportunity to flip through pages of history earlier this week.
Dr. Nate Ayers, principal of Etowah High, called sophomore Leidy Lopez and freshman John Usry to the Golden Club Room in the school’s library, Tuesday, May 18, so they could help look through the most recent addition to the room — yearbooks.
The two students looked at yearbooks recently donated to the school ranging from the year 1929 to 1953.
The donation came from the Kelley family, whose matriarch Gloria Rowan Kelley passed away April 8, 2023.
“When they were taking care of her estate, they found a lot of yearbooks,” Ayers said. “Her son was talking to family members and they decided to donate their old yearbooks as well.”
Patrick Kelley, the son of Gloria, reached out to Ayers to see if the school would be interested in the yearbooks, Ayers gave an enthusiastic “yes.”
The oldest yearbook in the donation was one from 1929, which according to Ayers, is the fourth yearbook the school produced, the first one being produced in 1925.
Lopez and Usry looked through the yearbooks and pointed out different clubs and activities the school used to provide. Usry’s favorite club was the Aviation Club and Lopez’s favorite was the Driving Club.
“It’s cool to see the different clubs that I never get to participate in,” Lopez said.
Usry echoed the sentiment.
Usry has a particularly special connection to the 1947 yearbook he looked through — his great grandfather is included in it. And, in another edition, his great grandmother’s photo is featured.
“Seeing my great granddad in here, someone I never met, 80 years later, is nice,” Usry said while looking at the photo of his great grandfather.
Ayers said he wanted Lopez and Usry to look through the donation because they are “rockstar students.”
“We need more Leidys and Johns around,” Ayers said. “They are really good kids.”
The two students said they enjoyed looking at the yearbooks and seeing the more formal outfits that students of the time wore.
Gloria appears in the 1948 edition of the yearbooks.
The Attalla native was a “proud 1948 graduate of Etowah High School,” according to her son.
The Kelley family donated a total of 14 editions of the Etowahian yearbook, from 1929, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1938, 1939, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953, in honor of Gloria Rowan Kelley.
“We are so grateful for the Kelley family donating these yearbooks,” Ayers said. “Having these here and showing these to students is important. It is important to show that their foundation and current students’ foundation all come from Etowah. We are very thankful.”
The yearbooks join the rest of the memorabilia from years gone by in the Golden Club Room, including other yearbooks, sports uniforms, dance uniforms, photos and more.
The Golden Club Room exists as an extension of the Golden Club, an alumni organization for Etowah High School. Members of the club are inducted once a year at the Golden Reunion. The requirement for being a member is having graduated from Etowah High 50 years ago.

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