Lawrenceville resident, Farrar Atkinson, a former Peace Corps volunteer and biology teacher at Manila High School in the Philippines, celebrated her eightieth birthday with former students from the classes of 1962-1964 on Thursday, 6/15/2017 in the Fellowship Hall at Rock Springs United Methodist Church.
Also, celebrating a milestone birthday was former student, Felicidad, “Felly” Lasala, who turned seventy years old.
How did they meet?
Mila is appreciative of Atkinson’s mentoring and generosity. “I didn’t know what my life was going to be like. I was sixteen years old and it was up to me to make the most of it. Farrar did more than was required of her as a Peace Corp volunteer and on her small salary. She positively affected all of our lives. She opened our eyes up to appreciating the fine arts and exposed us to different cultures. After school, I wanted to come here to Georgia.” The Binstock’s eventually did. They have resided in Lawrenceville for the past twenty-five years.
Felly immigrated to the United States in 1985, became an American citizen, and eventually relocated to Georgia to become an ESL teacher for the Gwinnett County School System from 1999 - 2010. “Thursday evening’s birthday and re-union celebration was very special.” Felly remarked. “Last night was very memorable. Classmates and their spouses traveled from all across the country and Canada. We serenaded Farrar with her favorite song, ‘Greenfields’.” The festivities also included music, ballroom dancing, and authentic Filipino and Southern cuisine, to include fried chicken. “Farrar is such a beautiful and compassionate spirit. When we’re all together, you forget time has passed.”
Fifty-three years later, Mayor Jordan’s daughter, Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson, joined in the birthday and reunion functions, welcoming the group to the City of Lawrenceville. They visited the sites around the Historic Gwinnett Courthouse Square and even dined at Dominick’s Italian Restaurant on Wednesday afternoon.
While the group has traveled throughout the United States and Canada to see each other for the past five decades, Atkinson has ventured back to the Philippines, her home away from home, seven more times.
Atkinson shared her sincere appreciation for the outpouring of love expressed by her family, friends, and former students. “I can say this has probably been my best birthday ever. Sharing this special occasion with my family and former students was so heartwarming and rewarding