To maintain and promote the cultural heritage and ideas engendered by the forebears of Tensas consolidated schools, (namely Tensas Parish Training School, Tensas High School, Tensas Rosenwald), to maintain a continuous awareness of the role the school has played in the lives of Tensasans and education by granting scholarships, to facilitate and maintain a spirit of comradeship and to establish a national network of former students for the furtherance of cultural, educational, and social goals.
Background / History
The Tensas Reunion began in St. Joseph, Louisiana, the seat of Tensas Parish, in 1976. It was formally organized and chartered as a Corporation with the Louisiana Secretary of State August 5, 1987. It is administered by a board of directors who are elected each year to a term of three years. Members attending the reunions elect board members based on a rotating schedule. The Corporation acquired nonprofit (501-C4) status in 1988, and (501-C3) status in 1998. Annual Corporate meetings are held in various locations each year in conjunction with the annual reunions. The Corporation began its scholarship program for descendants of Tensas in 1988 with one award. Since that time, as of July 2004, forty-one (41) scholarship awards of $500.00 to $2,500.00 have been issued to each student in accordance with scholarship donations. A local summer food program for the needy was started in 1999 and continues to the present. State General Funds of $25,000.00 have also been received to support yearly reunions. Some state funds were received for plans and drawings to restore the old Tensas Rosenwald High School, however, priority 1, and priority 2 appropriation funds of $700,000.00 from the state of Louisiana to start “brick and mortar” work continues to be delayed each year.
The delays have not dampened the Corporations determination to move forward with its programs. As a non-profit, 501c community based organization, working with local, state, and federal government, the mission is to develop and implement comprehensive and sustainable programs that improve the quality of life for all the needy residents of Tensas Parish. With this in mind, an educational component is being developed to meet the needs of the parish’s under served. This component is the Tensas Revitalization, Education, and Economic Sustainability (TREES) Project. In 2002, $10,000.00 was awarded by the state, and in 2003, $200,000.00 was awarded in federal funds. The TREES Project will help enhance education and elimination of literacy in Tensas Parish. Perhaps the one thing that has touched the hearts of each student from the old schools is their desires to establish a Memorial of Perpetuity for that memory , or a Heritage Culture Center, of Tensas Parish Training School (TPTS), Tensas Rosenwald High School (TRHS), and parish student achievements. To bring this into clear focus an Archives Committee has been given the leadership position, and is recognized as a Standing Committee in the Corporate structure. Another component, approved by the board in 2003, is the Descendants of Tensas (DOT) Inclusion Plan. This is a process that reaches out to all descendants of all schools, local, state, and national, to join and enjoy the reunions.
Tensas parish includes the towns of Waterproof, St. Joseph, and Newellton. This parish is the poorest parish in all of Louisiana, and the 12th poorest in the United States. The reunion is a celebration of students from all of these towns, and surrounding areas, that once attended the only school, located in St. Joseph, for Negro youth in the parish. The school started in October of 1926, and was soon known through out the state as Tensas Parish Training School (TPTS). In the late 1950’s the Training School was replaced with a very modern school, including a new Gymnasium, and renamed Tensas Rosenwald High School (TRHS). The new school was constructed because of increased pressure from the government in the south to provide colored students with “separate but equal facilities.” In 1970, after twelve years, the school was closed, and all students were integrated into high schools in each of the towns. After closure the school was used as a vocational school, a part of special services, and a furniture store. After that the school was left by the Tensas Parish School Board to decay and rot. Later, a lease was acquired by Tensas Reunion Incorporated to restore it to include a Heritage Culture Center, with a Convention Area for “Home Base” reunion activities, outdoor recreational facilities, and rooms for other government, community, education, or individually sponsored programs. When funded some of these rooms may be used by the TREES Project.
You can join us. You can donate to our cause.
You can encourage your representatives and senators at the Federal level to continue funding our Education and Food Programs.
Contact us through this website and donate to our Tensas Scholarship, Special Education, Old School Restoration, and Museum programs.
If you are interested in becoming a partner in sponsoring a reunion or individual event there in, contact us at this website.