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Bios from Featured Oral History Videos

Dr. Joseph V. Boykin, Jr.

Dr. Joseph V. Boykin, Jr. shares the legacy that his father, Joseph V. Boykin, Sr., established while serving as the second and final principal of all-black Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School (PACTS/UKHS). As the son recalls, in the early years of his father’s administration, Principal Boykin wanted more educational opportunities for his students. At the time, black students were only expected to learn vocational studies and become maids, tradesmen, and other jobs. Sharing the sentiment of other educators and supporters, Mr. Boykin led the movement to expand the curriculum with college preparatory courses to provide students with an option of attending college. Because of his vision, many PACTS/UKHS students enrolled in college, graduated with degrees and became leaders in a variety of professions. His son, Joseph, Jr., graduated from PACTS/UKHS and is a plastic surgeon in Richmond, Virginia.

Cora Lee Goodman

Cora Lee Goodman attended Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School (PACTS/UKHS) providing her with a lifetime of memories. She particularly remembers the days in early October 1948 when she and other eighth-graders were initiated as “greenhorns” by members of the school’s senior class. During the week-long initiation, seniors required Ms. Goodman and her peers to wear the clothes inside out, put a shoe on one foot and a bedroom slipper on the other, and many crazy stunts that made those days “just a fun week for the eighth-graders,” she said.  Like many graduates of the school, Ms. Goodman appreciates the vision and courage of a handful of business men and parents who raised money to purchase the land to construct a school for African American students in Princess Anne County, which later became a part of Virginia Beach. Ms. Goodman is a retired custodian of Virginia Beach City Public Schools.


Ms. Esther Grimstead Wilson wanted to be the first child in line on the opening morning for the Princess Anne County Training School in 1938. She ended up being the fourth in line on a day that started a wonderful journey for her and all the “colored” children who attended the school. After becoming the first comptroller for Norfolk State University, Ms. Wilson "gave back" to her alma mater by being an active organizer and member of a black women’s social organization that annually selected young girls from the school to become debutantes. Long retired from the university, Ms. Wilson now travels from her home in Norfolk to work twice a week as a secretary for First Lynnhaven Baptist Church in Virginia Beach.


Ms. Margie Wilson Coefield still cherishes the initiative and motivation of the school’s ancestors who bravely embraced their vision to raise money to start the Princess Anne County Training School over 70 years ago. A retired teacher of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Ms. Coefield is the chair of the Princess Anne County Training/Union Kempsville High School Historical Committee, a group of former teachers and students, that expanded the research of the history of the school and collected artifacts from their peers for the new museum throughout 2008. She lives in Chesapeake, Virginia.


For many years, Ms. Edna Hendrix asserted herself to become the historian of Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School, to record and honor the precious history of the school and the people associated with the educational facility. Culling years of memories and memorabilia from the minds and homes of former teachers and students, Ms. Hendrix has organized the history into books and into a reputation as the foremost authority on the history of the schools.


Once a shy student at Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School, Dr. Ray Spain found his path to educational achievements and success through the grace and favor of the school’s nurturing and caring teachers and administrators. Because of their interest in him, realized he could accomplish many things. He later graduated from the school and enrolled in college in North Carolina. Dr. Spain became an educator serving in Virginia and Norfolk Carolina. He is now the superintendent of Warren County Public Schools in North Carolina.


Erma L. McPherson-Brown is deeply rooted to the history of Princess Anne County-Union Kempsville High School. Her grandfather, Millie McPherson,  was one of the founders of an association that envisioned the Princess Anne County Training School, vowing to build the school because “I want my children to be educated,”  McPherson-Brown recalled her grandfather saying.

 “I am proud to be the granddaughter of my grandfather, you know... my grandfather died in 1975 at the age of 88 and he lived to see that last class to graduate.”


Thaddeus Cason, Sr. has fond memories of his days at Princess Anne County Training School, which he graduated from in 1954. He started the school in the eighth-grade, but remembers, like yesterday, the close environment students enjoyed in that small building established on a foundation created by black parents who wanted more for their children. “The school was sort of small, like it was constructed out of stucco and it had no central heat or anything. It had a coal stove.”  During his school days, “we had fun but we learned at the same time.”

Last Modified on Monday, April 23, 2018