Keeping the legacy alive: I.C. Norcom High School celebrates 105 years

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A local high school celebrates 105 years, but there may be some who don't know the history of the man who inspired its name.

This weekend, there is a grand reunion hoping to change that. Generations spanning decades will gather this weekend to celebrate a shared history.

The choir sings in the tradition of I.C. Norcom High School as it opens its treasure of history dating back more than a century.

Who was this man, I.C. Norcom?

"I.C. Norcom the man was a visionary, I think," said Mae Breckenridge-Haywood, Class of 1958. "He thought that education was the key to success."

Photographs weave a history rooted in the serious business of education and learning.

Breckenridge-Haywood and Evelyn Sawyer are attending their 60th class reunion this year, but they also seek a higher purpose at this reunion.

"I think it's very important for the younger generation to know about the history of the school, of the man and that we had challenges," said Breckenridge-Haywood.

The challenges of the Jim Crow era, segregation, separate and unequal - all while striving to achieve excellence.

"I am very happy and thrilled that we continue to keep the legacy alive," said Breckenridge-Haywood.

For Sawyer, the legacy is about the learning. Quoting her favorite line from the school song: "To love, you teach the heart."

She recalls a recent phone call from a former student, now a retired professor, who shared something she will never forget.

"'I want you to know I'm a loving person today because of you,'" Sawyer shared. "I said, 'He got it; that's what teaching is all about."

"We're a high school, but we have qualities of friendship, education, love. That's like an alumni of colleges, and universities, and I'm proud of that legacy. Nobody can touch that; that's history," said

There will be a parade in front of the high school at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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