‘We’ll still be Purple Flash’: Memories stir as dust settles on demolished school

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 8:38 PM EDT
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MARTIN, Ky. (WYMT) - Martin High School opened in 1939, serving the students of Martin and giving the Floyd County community a place to build memories for the next 60 years.

The school restructured in 1972 when four area high schools consolidated into Allen Central, giving the old building a new chapter as an elementary school.

“A lot of sentimental things here. My mother worked here and I used to come to work with her when I was about nine months old. And, of course, I went to school here until my senior year,” said former student and retired teacher Doug Derossett. “Got my degree in education and I began my career here teaching. I taught seventh and eighth-grade English. That’s where I started my career. Taught here most of my career.”

Derossett shared his story Friday, peeking over his shoulder to survey the debris left behind after crews demolished the town monument this week.

“It’s a really big part of our community. People here take a lot of pride in the Purple Flash. I get a little emotional myself,” Derossett said. “It’s community and family. A lot of brotherhood.”

He said the sense of community shared by the Purple Flash generations is something to which he is proud to contribute.

“Once you consolidate, you lose some of that community but... progress,” said Derossett.

While he is sad to see the building gone, Derossett hopes it will help the city move toward progress. People from all over have dropped by the site to see the piles of bricks and the still-standing entranceway, many taking a piece of the debris as a keepsake.

Derossett said the community is feeling the ripples of the loss, but they will keep the lessons taught at the school alive for generations to come.

“No matter if they tear it down, we’ll still be Purple Flash,” he said.

Because it is not about the school building. It is about the community the school built.

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