Over a thousand attend Stockbridge High School reunion

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

More than a thousand people spent a fun Saturday afternoon on reliving old memories and making new ones with former classmates from Stockbridge High School.

Crowds of former students and teachers took a stroll down memory lane at the Stockbridge High School reunion last Saturday. Special photo

The huge reunion event took place on the original campus, which most recently has housed Patrick Henry Academy since the fall of 1994. The event was open to anyone who attended the school on that campus (1966-1994). Scores of former students took one more opportunity to walk the halls and visit the classrooms where they spent so much time so long ago.

While it is nearly impossible to know the exact count, there were probably around 1,400 people on the grounds Saturday, according to Keith Craddock, the event’s primary organizer.

“We bought 1,000 name tags and we ran out of those,” he said. “Some couples brought their kids and we didn’t give name tags to the kids.”

The Varsity catered the event, and more than 400 tickets for their food offerings were sold in advance, Craddock added.

Typically a joint reunion for the classes of 1966-1982 is held every five years and a few hundred people show up. But nothing of this scale has been attempted before.

Part of the motivation for it was the increase in speculation about whether the school building would still be there in a few months, although that has been settled for now.

Since the school board officially voted in January to relocate Patrick Henry Academy to the McDonough Elementary School campus and close the Stockbridge location, there have been rumors about what will happen to the Stockbridge property, such as whether it will be torn down or sold.

School system spokesperson J.D. Hardin said Friday that the property is still being used and there are no plans right now to change that.

“The Board of Education has no plans to tear down that building,” Hardin stated by email. “It still houses professional learning space for our district, and there are plans to provide a northern transportation hub through the current facility. I don’t know how the rumor got started about tearing it down, but that hasn’t been discussed.”

Craddock said he and others worked Saturday to quash the rumors about the campus being demolished, as some attendees wanted to take old pieces of scrap metal as souvenirs. Now that the facility will apparently be around for a while, another reunion of this kind is not out of the question.

“Those buildings are still in great shape,” said Fred Evans, another graduate who attended. “I was amazed at how good they were.”

Even the football field has remained in decent condition partly because a number of rec teams have used it in recent years.

Evans said he knew of 15 or 20 people who came to the reunion from other states such as Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. “I think a lot of people were surprised at how successful it was,” he added.

“It was so nice,” said fellow graduate Steve Cash, who emceed the afternoon’s festivities. “Everybody I talked to enjoyed it.”

Of course, the biggest attraction at any reunion is the chance to reconnect with people from long ago. There was no shortage of that, and the impact of Facebook in getting the word out about the event cannot be overstated.

“I probably saw 10 or 15 people I had not seen in 30 years,” said Craddock, who has remained in Henry County since graduation. “One guy was there I hadn’t seen since the night we graduated in 1971.”