Thursday, June 18, 2009
High school memories
Saturday night about 8:30 I was walking down the hall of Hamilton, Ala., High School.
It was the conclusion to a special evening. I attended the 42nd annual Alumni Banquet held on the Bevill State Community College in Hamilton.
Following the banquet, fellow Class of 1979 member David Markham invited several of us to take a tour of the high school. He’s a teacher and coach at HHS.
We were all excited about the opportunity to see changes and improvements to the facility and to relive some high school memories.
Immediately after walking through the front doors, a classmate asked, “Where are the lockers?”
Thirty years ago, senior lockers lined the hall in that area – but no more.
However, the lockers through the rest of the building looked exactly the same. We all tried to remember our combinations but to no avail.
We went into the library and a classmate, Phil Norris, found a book he wrote a paper on while in school.
As we walked by the rooms, we recalled teachers’ names – Mr. Shotts, Mrs. Rich, Mrs. Palmer, Mr. Hughes, Mrs. Weeks and so on and so forth.
“I was scared to death of Mr. Shotts,” one classmate remarked.
“Weren’t we all?” was a reply.
Ronnie Miller, current principal at HHS, was kind enough to accompany us on our tour. It’s apparent he’s done a wonderful job the past few years at our alma mater.
We all laughed when we shared with him the story of one of our mischievous classmates riding a motorcycle down the hall from one end of the building to the other.
We didn’t make it to the “old gym.” And by the way, the “new gym” was built in the 1980s.
But the “old gym” stores all my high school basketball memories. I did learn it’s still in use for physical education classes and other activities.
It was the first year I’ve ever attended the Hamilton High School Alumni Banquet. We had a 20-year class reunion 10 years ago, but not as part of the banquet.
I had been in contact with Ann West, another class member, about a possible 30-year reunion (1979). Instead she just urged everyone via e-mail and Facebook to come to the banquet, which is for all HHS grads.
The banquet honored the classes of 1959 (50 years ago), 1984 (25 years ago) and 1999 (10 years ago).
We had about eight members of the Class of 1979 in attendance, plus we were joined at our table by a couple of other close friends who graduated a year or two later.
As I waited in line to register, the first person who said, “Barry Burleson” was one of my all-time favorite teachers – Mrs. Weeks. I had not seen her in probably 25 years.
She taught business education and was also the sponsor for the high school newspaper. She gets a lot of credit for steering me into this profession which I love.
“I started not to come this year,” she said. “Now I’m so glad I did.”
The feeling was mutual.
And after the hugs, smiles, laughs and reminiscing that highlighted the evening, I hope to go back each year.
We concluded by all singing the school’s alma mater – “White, maroon, our dear old colors; true to thee we’ll be; watch and guard and always honor – Hamilton High, Hamilton High.”
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