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Kenly High School Class of 1965

In the fall of 1952, eager 6-year-old children from Kenly, NC and surrounding area began their education at Kenly High School. At this time, the school was a grades 1-12 school. It had been built in 1914 as a first through 11 school. First grade teachers were Mrs. Grace Corbett and Mrs. Lucretia Hardison and the principal was Mr. J. Burke Long.

These students were among the first of the post-World War II era of "baby boomers" having been born 1-2 years after the end of the war.

The design of the school was a brick structure with a large stairway on the front. This style was typical of a lot of schools built during this era. It also had a gymnasium which was constructed of wood.

Our play area was on the right side of the school at the site of the old teacherage. Jump rope for the girls and marbles for the boys were favorites. Since we did not yet have a cafeteria, we brought bag lunches to school. Some mothers brought their children a hot meal from home.

The ensuing years brought changes to Kenly High School. A building for first graders also housed a cafeteria and an auditorium. The old teacherage had been torn down to make way for an agricultural education building. Students who lived within the city limits did not have school bus service, so they came to school by private transportation or walked to school.

Many of the students in this class remained together for the whole twelve years we were in school. Occasionally, we would have a new student who moved to the area, or one who might have transferred from another Johnston County school. We had many teachers who made an impact on our lives, but they are too numerous to mention. After Mr. Long retired, Mr. Wallace Kirby became our principal. Mr. Kirby had also coached the girls' basketball team. Mr. O.W. Raper succeeded him as our coach. While we may not have realized it at the time, these teachers all left an indelible imprint on us for which we are eternally grateful.

Years passed, and looking back, our lives, including our school life, seemed idyllic. But a few really significant events occurred that impacted us. We remember when Hurricane Hazel came to visit in 1954. School was dismissed early due to the storm. We remember leaving school with high winds whipping the trees. Many trees as well as strcutures were damaged as a result of this storm.

We survived the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the Korean War, etc. All of us remember where we were at school on November 22, 1962, when we learned of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Civil Rights activity began, the US involvment in Vietnam broadened, and the Peace Corps was formed. These were a few of the happenings in the world of which we were aware, but somehow shielded from in a small town.

As we got older, we became involved in community activities such as church groups, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and skating at the skating rink. There were sports and clubs to broaden our school experience.

We all looked forward to the day when we would enter high school. We began to change classes for each subject and most of us had a study period during the day. Our library was large, well-staffed by teachers as well as students.

When we were juniors in high school, we organized and carried out a prom for the seniors. Whatever the theme was, we hung umbrellas from the ceiling for decoration and they looked very nice. Do you remember the rose chain we made and held for the seniors to enter into the gym? We used pink roses that I still call "ditch bank" roses. We also enjoyed our senior prom and how much fun it was to dress up and be honored. As juniors we had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. and New York City. The World's Fair was going on in New York at the time and we attended, a once in a lifetime trip. We had partially earned money for this trip by picking cotton and pulling up peanuts. While this was hard work, it was fun to do with our friends. All of us were involved in some way with the agricultural nature of our community.

Many of us participated in printing a school newspaper, while others were on the annual staff to preapre for our annual, the Galleon. Many of us also sang in the Glee Club with Mrs. Pate as our leader. Class plays were also fun. Remember our excitement when we got our class rings? Next was getting fitted for our caps and gowns. Where to go to college was one of our most important decisions at the time.

Senior year was a lot of fun, but also a busy time. We learned that our class would be the last graduating class at Kenly High School. Next school year would be a transition to a large, consolidated high school named North Johnston High School. In addition, this would be the first year when students of all races would be integrated in schools. What a distinction this was to the be the final graduating class at Kenly High.

Fifty years later, we held a reunion to celebrate ourselves and our school. Sadly, on September 6, 1994, the main classroom building of the school burned down and it was decided not to rebuild it. The other auxiliary buildings are still standing and still used for community activities.

At our reunion, everyone had an opportunity to summarize our accomplishments and to express how important friendships have been to them. Unfortunately, seven of our classmates are deceased, but a memorial table for them was present. This class is proud to have had some its boys serive in Vietnam after high school.

From the class, we had several administrative assistants, several teachers, two medical doctors, two nurses (one of which is a psychiatric nurse practitioner), at least one farmer who became a merchant at Turf and Surf. One has her own florist. Some of teh graduates became IT support people, while another became a real estate broker and assessor. One graduate is now in Christian service. Many of us have been active in our churches and recognize how important our faith has been in getting us through. All in all, our class is proud of each person's accomplishments, as well as our class's accomplishments. We feel that we all have been important contributing citizens. While some of us are retired from our careers, there are still some working and contributing to society. Those who are retired are also involved in community and able to enjoy family more.

The graduating class of 1965 from Kenly High School hopes to continue to meet periodically. Many friendships have been rekindled and hopefully will endure.

Written and submitted by Jan B. Pope

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