Nancy Jones and her twin sister Georgia Deatrick were students at Clay Elementary School when the 1954 Brown v. Topeka Board of Education case was handed down.

Her all-white school would soon have its first black students.

Jones, now 73, recalls her parents sitting her down and telling her what to expect and, more importantly, how to behave.

"They told me to be friendly with the new students," Jones said, "and to treat them with kindness and respect."

Jones said when her fourth-grade class started in the fall of 1954, two black girls were in her room.

"Ironically, both were named Sharon," Jones said. "Sharon Quarles and Sharon Kayhill."

It didn't take long for Jones to become friends with the new girls, noting she "liked them both very much."

Jones recalled no problems with white students accepting their new black classmates at Clay Elementary School.

At the same time, she said she didn't realize until later the challenges her black classmates faced that first year.

"They gave up their schools," Jones said. "They gave up their classmates, their teachers. It must have been very difficult for them."

Clay Elementary School, a stately, two-story brick building, was located at 635 S.W. Clay. It closed its doors as a public school in 1975 but in more recent years has served as the home of Cair Paravel Latin School.

"I went from kindergarten through high school with most of my classmates from Clay Elementary School," Jones said. "Some of us even went to college together."

Of the two black girls who joined her fourth-grade class in 1954, Jones said she became especially good friends with Sharon Quarles, who previously had attended the all-black Buchanan Elementary School, 1195 S.W. Buchanan.

Jones grew up in the 700 block of S.W. Lincoln. She said Quarles lived a couple of doors south of the Topeka fire station in the 800 block of S.W. Clay. The two grew up only about three blocks away from each other but never met until Clay school was integrated.

The two would visit each other's homes that year and get to know each other's families.

"I remember her mother and thinking what a beautiful woman she was," Jones said. "And she was."

When the girls completed sixth grade, they headed off to junior high. Jones said Quarles ended up going to Boswell Junior High, formerly located at S.W. 13th and Boswell, where she was reunited with many of her former classmates at Buchanan School.

Jones, meanwhile, went to Roosevelt Junior High, when it was located near S.W. 1st and Quinton.

After their three years in junior high, the two would reconnect at Topeka High School.

Growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in west-central Topeka taught Jones a healthy respect for others, regardless of their background.

It came as a shock to her a few years later when she realized the strife that integration brought to other locations across the nation.

"I turned on the television and saw the faces of these adults in Little Rock and Boston screaming at the children as they were going to school," Jones said. "It was really upsetting to me.

"We never saw anything like that in Topeka."

Jones said she occasionally would see Sharon Quarles and Sharon Kayhill after she became an adult. She said both of them have died.

She said she last saw Sharon Quarles at the 40th reunion of the Topeka High class of 1963. She said Quarles was ill at the time and that she died a short time later of ovarian cancer.

At Quarles' funeral, Jones said, she looked around and saw many former classmates from Topeka High.

"I thought, these were her classmates from Buchanan School, and it dawned on me how hard it must have been to leave them," Jones said. "She had to have been a remarkably strong girl."

Jones remembers the year that black students came to Clay Elementary School and says she considers herself to have benefited from integration that was brought about by the Brown v. Board case.

Another student who was in school at the time of the Brown v Board case was Mike Worswick, who was in second grade at Randolph Elementary School, 1400 S.W. Randolph.

Worswick he doesn't remember a great deal about black students coming to Randolph in 1954.

However, he said he does recall something related to the Brown decision that occurred several years later and that had a profound effect on him when he was in sixth grade.

"The thing I became aware of was, when I was in the sixth grade, a question came around to my parents — would I mind having a black teacher?" Worswick said.

His parents said they were fine with young Mike having a black teacher.

"It turned out to be one of the best things in my life," said Warwick, a 1964 graduate of Topeka High School.

Worswick recalled the arrangement that year: A black teacher and a white teacher split assignments with the school's two sixth-grade classes. A black teacher took one class in the morning while a white teacher had the other class. The teachers then switched classes for the afternoon.

The black teacher in that arrangement was J.B. Holland, Worswick recalled. Six decades later, Worswick is keenly aware of the impact Holland had on him.

"J.B. Holland was my sixth-grade teacher for a half-day," said Warswick, 72. "Having him be my teacher was a most rewarding experience for me. We had a white teacher for the other half of the day. I couldn't tell you his name. But J.B. Holland sure made an impression on me. I've never forgotten him."