The year is 1923. Many people gather for an event. The event will last all day and feature dinner on the ground.
The event is the opening of New Hope Consolidated School, a venture years in the making.
The school combined five smaller schools: McCrary, Little Hope, Mt. Vernon, Dunbar and Windham.
For a majority of the school’s life, there has also been a reunion. This reunion brings together classes, adding a new one each year, and it began 80 years ago.
“The reunion itself began several years ago,” said Mitzi Younger, one of the coordinators of the event. “I think Ralph Williamson hosted the first reunion and kind of got it started. After that, every year, an annual alumni luncheon would be held in the summer. Each year, they would add a class. It started in the 1940s.”
Mitzi, who was class of 1974, along with her husband Curtis, who was class of 1961, inherited the event right before the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be the first event since the pandemic.
“The cafeteria roof has been replaced and hopefully COVID is in our rearview mirror,” Curtis said.
This year’s event will be held on June 3 at 9:30 a.m. at New Hope High School.
There will be class pictures and a luncheon.
However, with such a long gap, paired with the change in leadership, tracking down alumni has been a challenge.
“We inherited the job from a couple of elderly alumni,” Mitzi said. “The list they gave us was all we had. We had tried to get people from the different classes to take their list and work on (finding) their classmates. I mailed one to a guy in the 1970 class and he called me and said he’s got one coming from Oklahoma, one from Colorado. He was so pumped. Because he said this will be as close to a class reunion as they will ever have.”
Curtis’s class will have alumni coming in from Texas, Florida and Tennessee.
The classes included in this year’s event range from the 1940s to 1972.
“Attending will not only give you the opportunity to visit with classmates but also with friends from classes older and younger than yours,” Curtis said. “Everyone has stories about the ‘good ole’ days at New Hope High School.”
Though the deadline for registering is technically Saturday, the Youngers want to stress that it is not too late. They want everyone who is interested to attend.
“If they have not gotten a letter, I would like for them to call,” Mitzi said. “Please let us know, it’s not too late. Even though we said the cutoff was (Saturday), we had to have some kind of idea to give the caterer. We want anybody who is interested in coming to please come.”
So far, there have been 125 people registered to attend, Mitzi said.
However, with people now spread to the wind and many of the older alumni having passed away, the couple is afraid the event may follow suit.
“I really think the reunion will eventually fizzle out unless the classes of the 60s and 70s keep it going,” Mitzi said. “The older people are dying and the younger classes have no interest. We included the class of 1973, but we got no response. They’re also having their own class reunion, so I’m thinking they’re not ever going to want to be a part of it. I’m part of it. I was in the class of 1974. I don’t foresee anyone in my class caring about it because a lot of them didn’t grow up there.”
She said a huge part of the event is the sense of community with people who grew up in the area and the sense of community when coming together.
“It’s just a sense of belonging and these people caring about you,” Mitzi said. “Because when you were at New Hope, everybody cared about everybody and checked on one another. It was just something very special.”
Anyone interested in attending can call or text (662) 574-6418.
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