The National West Point Alumni Inc., sponsors fundraiser

The National West Point Alumni Inc., is hosting a catfish fundraiser from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Friday, July 28, at the historic Northside School. All proceeds go toward the renovation of the site of the first African American School in West Point. The group wants to see the historic old building transformed into a community center and house a museum.
Staff Writer

There are very few things that taste better than Mississippi catfish.

The National West Point Alumni Inc., is sponsoring a catfish plate lunch fundraiser from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Friday, July 28, at the historic Northside School. Tickets are being sold by NWPAI members for $8.

That provides a plate of catfish, spaghetti, slaw and cake. A beverage will be provide if eating on site. Tickets will be pre-sold until Wednesday, July 22, to allow for how much food will need to be prepared.

Mattie Brooks is chair of the fundraiser and wants to be sure everyone who buys a ticket will have plenty to eat.

"We're asking people to pre-buy the tickets so we'll know how much food to make," Brooks said. "We don't want to tun out of food. People can buy tickets from any Alumni member. Plates can be delivered if someone buys a ticket and is unable to come and pick the plate lunch up."

Brooks said she graduated from Northside School in 1957, and wants very much to see the building preserved.

"It's more than a little frustrating to pay for new windows and then have them broken out," Brooks said. "We would love for our young people to understand that the building means a lot to those of us who went to school there. We are trying to make it nice so everyone in the community can use it. We are working hard to keep the building."

Brooks said she and the members of NWPAI have been pitching in to help raise matching funds to go along with the grants the group has received.

In addition to the catfish lunch fundraiser, the NWPAI has sponsored other fundraisers, such as, the Poor Man's Banquet in 2016. Everyone was asked to bring a covered dish. There was no charge for the meal but donations were accepted for the restoration project. Bettye Swift, of the NWPAI said it was a fun and very successful fundraiser for Northside School.

“The WPSD's Board of Trustees were considering razing the old Northside School in 2004,” Swift said. “The NWPAI did not want to see that happen and we approached the board and requested the property be deeded to us. We applied for Historic Landmark Designation from Mississippi Department of Archives and History. That's when the renovation process was set in motion.”

Swift said the roof had been replaced two years ago and the groups were continuing to raise money for a $300,000 Mississippi Community Heritage grant. There has to be 20 percent of that grant, $60,000 in place for the grant to be awarded.

"We have plans for a room to be dedicated as an African American History Museum," Swift said. "As the first African American high school in West Point, this building is a treasure. It was originally called the Northside Colored School."

The next phase of restoration will be on the bathrooms, gymnasium and some classrooms, according to Swift.

"When all remodeling and renovations are done, the building will be a community center for everyone to use and enjoy," Swift said. "That's our long term goal. To have something nice for everyone in the community to take advantage of."

Everyone is invited to spend $8 and get a good catfish lunch while helping to preserve the historic landmark for generations to enjoy.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 494-1263 or 605-0741.