At the August 5 meeting of the Morehouse Parish School Board, Bastrop native and resident Ricky Dickerson and a group of citizens known as the Committee of Strick' 66 had a long-term goal realized when the school board voted to allow a building at Morehouse Junior High named in honor of Charles Ross Strickland, a former band leader who had a very influential role in the lives of his students and was a respected member of the community.
For the past several months Dickerson, Marshall Williams, Willie Lee Johnson and Woodrow Foreman — members of the committee — circulated a petition to gather signatures supporting the name change before presenting the proposal to the school board.
That petition ended up receiving approximately 500 signatures from area residents and was presented to the board along with a copy of Dickerson's book "Puff Ditch" which highlighted Strickland's sacrifices for the youth of Bastrop and for his band program. In a previous interview with the Enterprise, Dickerson discussed his admiration for the educator.
"He was so kind-hearted — the thing that emanated from him was that he had your best interests at heart," Dickerson said. "We didn't have much growing up in that era. Mr. Strickland kept us out of trouble really, and he did a lot for us. He sacrificed so much for us to get music, cases and instruments and teaching us. That's all we had."
At the meeting where the name change was approved, the central office of MJH was identified as the original band room and will be the likely location for a memorial bearing Strickland's name.
The exact specifications of the memorial have yet to be determined.
School board President Mike Stephens informed the committee that the school board could purchase a basic plaque or the committee could look into their options.
According to Dickerson, the particulars of the recognition plaque are still being worked out as well as how funds will be raised to finance the design and creation, but he is pleased with the decision and with how swiftly the school board acted.
"We were elated about the decision," Dickerson said. "We were overwhelmed. None of us thought the decision would be made right then."
If a dedication ceremony is scheduled after a plaque is obtained, the Enterprise will list the date and time in the community bulletin board section of the newspaper.