D180524 decatur high

Charlotte Orr Moores with her granddaughter, Landess Brown, in front of the Decatur High School campus both attended on Prospect Drive Southeast. [CRYSTAL VANDER WEIT/DECATUR DAILY]

The friendly debate between Charlotte Orr Moores and Landess Brown didn’t last long.

“I don’t know how we can determine that, but I did graduate cum laude from Vanderbilt,” Moores said to the question about who’s the smartest.

“I agree,” said Brown, who will make history tonight when she receives her diploma during Decatur High School’s graduation ceremony at Ogle Stadium.

She will be one of 226 graduates in the final senior class to receive diplomas from the Decatur High site that opened in 1950. The facility will become Decatur Middle School next school year.

Moores, who is Brown’s grandmother, was in the first graduation class to receive diplomas at the two-story school in 1951.

“We held our graduation in there,” she said, pointing to the auditorium that was large enough for the 111 graduates in the Class of 1951.

Moores said 16 members in her family have graduated from Decatur, and her granddaughter is a third-generation graduate. Brown’s mother graduated from Decatur in 1986, and her father is a 1985 Decatur graduate.

“I’m proud of her and she’s as smart as anyone,” Moores said about Brown.

Both are Decatur High honor graduates, but they traveled different roads to get to the school on Prospect Drive.

Brown went to the magnet schools and Oak Park Middle before coming to Decatur as a freshman. Moores, 85 and a grandmother of eight, went to Gordon Bibb School (now Banks-Caddell Elementary) for nine grades before going to Decatur High when it was located on Alabama 20 near Rhodes Ferry Park.

The school Moores attended is known as Riverside to some because it’s located near the Tennessee River. She said the school “was a dump and in bad need of repairs” when she moved her senior year to the Prospect Drive campus.

Moores said the football team had for some years been playing games at Ogle Stadium and she was familiar with the area because she was a cheerleader and played in the band.

“We were in heaven when we moved to the new school,” she said.

Brown knew that her grandmother was a Decatur graduate, but she wasn’t aware until recently where she attended her early high school years.

The two joked about how graduations have changed and what students do after they receive their diplomas.

“Back then, graduation gifts were things we needed for college or life,” Moores said.

Brown giggled.

She’s having a graduation party with some friends at Decatur County Club tonight and is going on a cruise June 1. After the cruise, she’s doing a mission trip to Haiti and will use part of her graduation money to fund the trip.

“See, I’m not wasting all of this,” Brown said, referring to the monetary gifts she’s getting for graduation.

“That’s OK, grandmothers are supposed to spoil grandchildren,” Moores responded.

After high school, Moores attended Sweet Briar, a small liberal arts college for women only in Virginia, before transferring to Vanderbilt, where she earned a degree in economics in 1955. She stayed in Nashville three years while her husband finished law school and moved back to Decatur, where she has lived since 1958.

Brown, a National Honor Society member who is one of the top 10 Decatur graduates, plans to attend Auburn University and study nursing.

- deangelo@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.

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