Blue Knights Back in Town
They're coming back. Lots of them.
On Saturday night, they'll sing the old song "Fair star of Southern Pines, our high school glorious..."
This weekend, the biggest reunion of Blue Knights in a decade is bringing swarms of alumni back to their old stomping grounds for a bit more stomping. Every class from 1956 through the end of town schools will be represented, and that means music from swing to bop to rock 'n' roll but especially the Carolinas' own shagging sounds.
"It's the biggest thing," said George Little, who is helping to coordinate the massing of the classes. "It is the classes from '56 through '69. Alumni and spouses will be arriving for all those classes. Some will be coming in the day before, and they will be in for the whole weekend. We are looking forward to an outstanding turnout."
The reunion will take place at the Southern Pines Elks Lodge.
Hundreds had already responded by mid-July, booking hotel rooms and Facebooking lunch meetings and golf dates with people they've not seen for nearly half a century and more.
"We got (registration) forms out to all the graduates," Little said. "We may have missed a few, but most have been getting theirs in."
This gathering also includes the classes that would have graduated as Blue Knights had it not been for the 1969 -opening of Pinecrest High School, when the county closed seven schools and consolidated them into one.
"We also have invited the people that were sophomores and juniors when the school closed in '69," he said. "They weren't the classes of '70 and '71. They went to Pinecrest, but they've been invited to participate, too. So everybody's invited."
A pig-pickin' will be held tonight at the Elks, though one class won't be there.
"My class is having our 50th," Little said. "So we are having our own celebration at Covington House."
Little hopes some of the teachers everybody remembers will also be able to attend.
"We will have golf on Saturday afternoon," Little said. "On Saturday night, we will have a dinner and have a DJ playing old beach music. That's stuff we all grew up on."
For Little, getting together with classmates to talk about old times is a way of paying homage to a special place and a special time.
"We had an exceptional school," Little said. "Our athletic programs were superior. Our arts programs and acting and all the extracurricular activities were outstanding. We had a special bond, and so we get back together every five years to reminisce."
It is a feeling shared by many others who spent their teens in the kingdom of the Blue Knights.
"The best four years of my life - aside from marrying my present wife, of course - were the four years I spent in Southern Pines with my classmates," said Kenneth Creech, class of 1957. "I have fond memories. In some way, I have always had this good feeling about my four years in Southern Pines and the classes I grew up with. The people that were there were one-of-a-kind. We learned small-town values in a small town that have stayed with us all our lives."
Administrators who began their careers in education in Southern Pines went on to have considerable influence and impact on the state of North Carolina. Phil Weaver left to become superintendent in Greensboro, where a building now bears his name, as does Weaver Auditorium in Southern Pines.
Superintendent A.C. Dawson left to become executive director of the North Carolina Association of Educators, a post he held until retirement, and then worked as an advocate for retired teachers well into his 90s.
Working with a committee of other alumni, Little has been helping put reunions together for more than 30 years.
"We started this thing in 1980," he said, "and it's still going."
Contact John Chappell at email@example.com.
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