For many, it was difficult to grasp that 50 years had come and gone since members of the Sampson High School and Clinton High School graduated.
Their class, the Class of 1967, was the one tasked with integrating the Sampson County School District. Towards that end, some students began the 1966-67 school year at the newly integrated Clinton High School, from which they would graduate in 1967. Others remained at Sampson High School so as to complete their senior year and graduate around familiar faces and within the security of well-known settings.
The three-day gathering classmates kicked off on Friday, June 2, from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Familiar, temporarily forgotten, vaguely remembered and new faces initially merged during the Class of 1967’s Reunion Cook-Out for classmates and their invited guests. It was during that time that members of the Planning Committee allowed time for classmates to become reacquainted and to gradually recall fond memories of the golden days of yesteryear. The cook-out was a befitting setting for gut-wrenching laughter and fellowship over delicious, cold beverages and cooked-to-perfection food.
By the second phase of the 50th Class Reunion that continued on Saturday, June 3, from 6 until 11 p.m., struggling with the concept of how much time had passed so quickly was only briefly mentioned when graduates from both schools, their spouses and/or significant others came together once again at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Center in Clinton. It was during this time period that approximately 45 previously reacquainted classmates and others just joining the festivities reunited to enjoy each other’s company, (one more time), during which ice-cold, Southern sweet tea and lemonade were served with a mouth-watering buffet, and a variety of home-baked cakes, that were enjoyed by all.
Each member of the Planning Committee played significant roles in carrying out all aspects of the Program of the 50th Class Reunion. Luther Leon Moore served as the Master-of-Ceremonies and rendered a warm Welcome that made everyone feel at home, followed by the Invocation led by Sammy Matthis.
Attendees were captivated by Rena Tew McAllister, who paid tribute to deceased classmates, while James Ray Butler lit candles as each name was called. This touching ceremony was followed by Janice Boykin Rayner, who read aloud the poem, “The Empty Chair” (Author unknown).
Johnny Lewis Allen blessed the food before guests began enjoying their meals, while unforgettable soulful Rhythm and Blues music from the 60s, 70s and 80s played softly in the background. The dual combination of great food and music were all that was required to make everyone enjoy the celebration!
As dinner began coming to a close, Peggy Bryant Boone introduced former Teacher of the Year Hazel Colwell, a retired school teacher and alumna of North Carolina Central University in Durham, who rendered remarks. Colwell reminded classmates of the importance of donating funds annually to the Sampson County High School’s Endowed Scholarship Fund. She stressed the need to help others behind them to attend and acquire their college degrees.
Colwell was later during the recognized Program by Bessie Matthews who presented her with flowers and an award for her “dedicated service” to the citizens of Sampson County, especially youth, in pursuit of their educational aspirations.
The highlight of the evening was a culmination of touching remarks and a video presentation, created by Evelyn Lane Sanders, that captured the reflections segment of the program. The video presentation included photographs of various schools’ classes, individual student’s photographs, school clubs, athletes, and other fond memories of events, people and activities that aroused attendees’ memories of times when they looked younger and moved faster. Laughter, as well as nostalgia, were apparent as the photos revived beautiful memories of those in the here and now and those who have left their earthly homes.
The program ended with the singing of the Sampson High School’s Alma Mater, which was still remembered by most.
With time still left to enjoy the evening, Lorenzo Smith continued capturing professional photographs that were available for on-site purchase; and DJ Shelton Ezzell got classmates and guests on the dance floor to demonstrate whether or not they still had the right dance moves. Some surely did and others thought they still did!
The third and final day of the 50th Class Reunion culminated on Sunday, June 4, at 11 a.m., with Sunday worship service at church of Johnny Lewis Allen. Several classmates attended church as a group before saying their final farewells at the close of the service.