The Central High School Cultural and Educational Complex opened in 2018 with a ribbon cutting in March and opening full time in July. Built in 1938, the current complex served for many years as the high school for African Americans. Before becoming vacant and after many renovations, the building has served as a middle school and housed the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Looking back to 2014, over 100 county members and high school alumni, met with county officials to discuss the future of the building. Fast forward to 2018 many past Central High School members and their family members were actively involved in the process of preserving history and moving towards the future. Ryan (2018, para 5) sums up the transformation by saying, “The complex offers many nods to its role in local African-American history, but now also serves as a site for community gatherings, classes, youth sports and senior activities.” This representation of Goochland County’s willingness to listen to and honor the wishes of its older adult population exemplifies one of the core dimensions of gerontology, the social domain. This domain involves the socialization and environmental aspects of elderhood along with recognizing the importance of background, all which has happened in Goochland County with this project.
It is our calculation that former Central High School students and their family members would range in age from early 50s to early 80s. According to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service (n.d.), in 2017 Goochland County had a total population of 22,685, with 5,192 ranging in age from 50 to 85 and over. The complex provides various events and opportunities for older adults to socialize and be active.
In 2018, events held at the complex for older adults, considered 50+, included a retirement planning workshop, healthy habits workshop in conjunction with Senior Connections, and a Chat & Chew. The Chat & Chew was an opportunity for older adults to share their ideas and insights. Currently, the Breakpoint Lounge is the area within the complex that is designated for older adults.
A well-attended activity for older adults at the complex is the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., pickleball program. Membership is free but a membership card is required for entrance and exit purposes.