It all began with an idea, as most good things do, and for the last 100 years the idea that became a reality continues on bigger, stronger and prouder than ever.
Saturday, Oct. 3, marks the 100th anniversary celebration of Hughesville High School.
From humble beginnings above Robert Bealert’s store, with one teacher and a superintendent, the school grew to its present location and is home to 159 students in grades seven through 12 with a staff of 58.
“We’ve been planning the event for two years,” Katie Walker, one of the event organizers, said. “It’s special to be a part of this because this is where I went to school, graduated and now have come back to teach.”
Walker and her husband, Kevin Walker, are both graduates of the school and it is where the couple moved back to so their daughters Maryann Walker and Grace Walker could also attend school.
“We lived in Kansas City but we wanted to come home to raise our family,” Walker said. “ My husband works in Columbia and he commutes every day to his job, that is how much this school and community mean to us.”
According to the school’s history that was compiled by Linda J. (Ramey) Johnson, J.R. Greer and Brenda Powell, the idea for a high school began in 1914. A bond issue for $4,500 was issued.
It was necessary to have the first classes upstairs at the store since the new building for the school was not completed at the time.
“On September 13, 1938, the Hughesville Consolidated School District voted 183 to 68 to approve a $28,000 school bond issue for the new building,” the history of the school states. “An application was submitted for a new combined grade and high school to the Public Works Administration and eventually a grant of $22,950 was approved. The total cost of the building was set at $51,000.”
The building, including a state-of-the-art gym and auditorium, was ready for students in the fall of 1939. Two additions have been added to the school to provide an industrial technology facility and cafeteria.
“The school building really hasn’t changed that much over the years,” Walker said. “But it isn’t really the building that makes us who we are.
“The great thing about our community is that we truly are a family,” Walker added. “We take care of each other; when a family faces an illness or someone loses their home to a natural disaster, we all pitch in to help out.”
Even though Walker wasn’t attending school in October of 1970, her current sentiments about the school were true then for others.
Bob Greer, who will serve as master of ceremonies for the dinner Oct. 3, knows about the caring nature of the school and community.
“As a senior, Greer was called to the office on a bright Monday morning,” an old copy of the school newspaper states. “He was sure he was in trouble, but to his surprise, he was not.
“He learned that the Hughesville Betterment Club had chosen his slogan as the official nickname for the town,” the article continued. “His winning entry was, ‘The Little Town with the Big Heart.’”
The legacy of caring and giving continues to this day and will play a large part in the 100th anniversary of Northwest (Hughesville) High School.
A commissioned piece of sculpture, created by 1986 Northwest graduate Donnie Luper, “The Giving Tree,” is a symbol of the roots the school has to the community.
At the base of the tree are the names of the five school districts that consolidated to form the present day school.
Each graduating class is represented on a handmade orange metal leaf, and additional leaves represent individuals and organizations who wish to be remembered as a contributing member of the district.
“We hope after the event we will add another branch to the tree,” Walker said. “We will be selling leaves during the evening for anyone who wishes to purchase one.”
The cost of each leaf is $50 and the proceeds will go to the Northwest Alumni Scholarship Fund.
Family roots run deep in the community.
“My husband and I both went to school and graduated from Northwest,” Ruth Ann Leicher said. “We married a year after we graduated and had three children who graduated from the school and now our grandchildren go to school there.
“We go to all their games and events just like we did with our children,” she added. “I don’t know if that is true at other schools but this is where we come back to, to raise our families; it truly is home.”
“One of the main reasons we are hosting this event is to honor everyone who has graduated from Northwest and who have been in service to the school and community,” Walker said.
The Hughesville 100th Anniversary Celebration will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 with tours of the building. Recognition of the following classes, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980 and 1985, will be made.
A program presented by Becky Carr Imhauser, “Seize the Day,” will follow the meal as will other events to celebrate the history of the school.
Tickets for the dinner are $20 per meal and are available at the door. To purchase tickets prior to the event or individuals with questions may contact Sherry Norfleet at 287-3980 or Ruth Ann Leicher at 826-6153 or by email at [email protected]
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484