Cavalier spirit going for 50 years
Under a steady drizzle of rain Saturday afternoon graduates of East Rutherford High School gathered on Mill Street in Forest City for the 50th All-Class Reunion.
Dozens attended opening ceremonies at 1 p.m. clutching umbrellas with one hand and digital cameras with the other.
Graduates from the first Class of '63 to the most recent Class of 2013, attended the morning event.
"We were not going to let the rain dampen the Cavalier spirit," Dr. Janet Mason, Rutherford County Schools superintendent, said during the opening ceremonies.
She said there was no way to stop an event "of this magnitude," as she thanked the reunion committee and organizer, Randy Herring.
Mason said told the crowd graduates were expected to attend from Michigan, Indiana, Ellenboro, Sunshine and all the far away places. There were reports that more than 3,000 were expected to attend the event that shut down at 10 p.m. Saturday.
Mason, a member of the Class of '83, said she is careful not to show any bias toward her alma mater East Rutherford High School, because she represents all the students and schools. "But someone asked me 'What's so special about being a Cavalier'?"
"Unless you're a Cavalier" you can't explain," she said.
East Rutherford Principal Brad Teague, a Chase High School graduate and former Chase teacher told the group, "I have the best job in the world thanks to Janet Mason." She was also a former East principal.
Teague said he has 770 of the best students in the world at East High School.
"I consider myself a Cavalier," he said. Teague has been in the East district seven years.
Mason's mother Beth Harmon was among those from those in the Class of '63 and her granddaughter Meredith Mason is from the Class of 2013.
Meredith came home for the event from North Carolina State University where she is a Parks Scholars.
"It's neat," Meredith said of the 50-year lapse between her grandmother's graduation and her own graduation. "And I do not believe I could have gone to a better high school. Meredith said the support of the school and community was great and she has found a supportive community at NCSU.
Harmon said the consolidation of Sunshine, Ellenboro and Cool Springs high schools to become East Rutherford High School and was very exciting and yet the students wondered if the consolidation would work.
"We were able to make new acquaintances," Harmon said. "I was there to lead that first cheer."
Judy Crowe Webb was also from the Class of '63.
"If we hadn't consolidated, I would have never met my husband,"(Wayne Webb) who was from Ellenboro High School.
All the graduates in the Class of '63 attended their respective other high schools for their freshmen, sophomore and junior years.
Throughout the afternoon as graduates and friends milled around the area, they heard others speaking and paying tribute to former classmates.
Among those speaking were Forest City Mayor Dennis Tarlton, former teachers Ruth Hodge, Roella Melnick and Dr. Bobby England. East Rutherford athletes Lewis Jolly and Randy Ingle, who went on to play professional sports, also addressed the Cavalier crowd.
There were tents set up for class registration, vendors with Cavalier memorabilia, plenty of food and music.