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Lower Merion Marks 50th Anniversary of Desegregation of Its Schools

(Former Ardmore Avenue School student Wendell Holland helps unveil a plaque at the site of the now-demolished school.  Credit: Pat Loeb)

(Former Ardmore Avenue School student Wendell Holland helps unveil a plaque at the site of the now-demolished school. Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

LOWER MERION, Pa. (CBS) — The town of Lower Merion today commemorated the 50th anniversary of school intergration in the township.

It was 1963 when the district closed the all-black Ardmore Avenue School and sent the students to the other, all-white, elementary schools.

Today, Ardmore Avenue alumni spoke about the difficult transition they made as elected officials, students, and residents watched the unveiling of a plaque on the site of the long-demolished Ardmore Avenue School.

Alumnus Wendell Holland (at left in photo) spoke of the sadness he and his fellow students felt on leaving the school but the pride they now take in their part of history.

“Our struggle was far from the spotlight in Selma and Little Rock, but it was just as real for us as it was for them,” Holland said.

The school district continues to struggle with diversity, with enrollment that’s 80 percent white.  And it still relies on Ardmore, where most black students reside, to provide diversity at two high schools by splitting the population between them.

The irony is not lost on schools superintendent Chris McGinley.

“All of us need to work to make sure we’re doing what we can to support students in that process,” he says, calling this anniversary a “teachable moment.”

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