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HED: 100 Years
HED: Amory High graduates centennial class
By CHRIS WILSON
AMORY -- When the seniors in the 2009 graduating class receive their diplomas this week, it will mark the 100th graduating class at the school.
The first class of AHS Panthers passed through the hallowed halls of their high school in 1909. But those halls weren't where they are now.
The high school has been located in three different places. In 1909, there was one school in Amory that housed all grades. It was located where First Presbyterian Church is now, but eventually burned to the ground and was replaced with a two-story high school where the middle school currently resides.
While much has changed through the past 100 years at Amory High, there are still some similarities. The school's mascot has remained a Panther and the school colors have always been black and gold.
Researching the school's first graduating class is not an easy task because all of the class' members, as well as all of the class members of about 25 classes after that, are all believed to be deceased.
The Amory Regional Museum assembled a display on the museum's second floor to showcase historical reminders of Amory High School's 100 years of graduating classes. The first AHS yearbook is there. It was called "The Gasser" and was published in 1928. Some of the seniors that year included the late Guy Pickle, Charles Allen Johnson and other names that are easily still recognizable around Amory. Mrs. Beauchamp was the principal of the high school in those days. Amory High's current auditorium is named after this longtime educator.
The museum also has Amory philanthropist E.D. Gilmore's AHS diploma displayed. He was in the class of 1922.
No one is absolutely sure who the oldest surviving AHS graduate really is. But many say it is Sue Miller, AHS class of '32, known then as Nada Sue Harden, who now resides at Oak Tree Plantation. The 95-year-old Miller is reluctant to claim the distinction of being the oldest graduate, "because there might be someone else from an earlier class than mine that we don't know about," she said.
But Miller likes to talk about her Amory High alma mater. She still has her diploma and a scrapbook full of high school memorabilia, including her commencement program.
Miller was in a class of 38 students. Being the sole survivor of her class, she quips, "I guess it feels like if I wanted to have a reunion I could have one ... any time I wanted."
Miller was an orphan as she finished her high school years, helping to raise her younger siblings while pursuing her studies. She remembers how kind her principal Mrs. Beauchamp was to her, allowing her to go home early during her study hall time to prepare lunch for her brothers and sister.
She recalls that the students mostly walked to school. "There were only two cars," she said. And the high school building itself was "a tremendous school for that age."
The superintendent of education when Miller graduated was J.G. Bridges. Another administrator by the name of Bridges served as the school district's superintendent of education in later years, Dr. Orman Bridges.
She recalls borrowing a typewriter to take a test. And ancient history was her favorite subject.
Miller remembers graduation day like it was yesterday. "Every minute of it," she says. She was in the 23rd graduating class at AHS, and commencement was held at 8 p.m. at the Methodist Church. A full meal was served to the graduates, of chicken, gravy, dressing, spring beans, deviled eggs and dessert. She still has the commencement menu tucked away in her scrapbook. Her class' sponsor was teacher Miss Lucille Rogers.
She recalls that school was pretty strict in her day. "There was lots of discipline," she said.
What does she think about AHS now celebrating its 100th graduating class? "Well, there's been so many changes through the years. People seem smarter now. They learn so much more."
"But I've had a really nice life and a wonderful married life. I got a good education, too," she exclaims with a smile.