Reunite with the classes of 1971
Published 12:21 am Thursday, May 19, 2016
Forty-five years may sound like forever to some, but for the classmates of the North and South Natchez high schools of 1971, it “seems like only yesterday.”
This class has its unique place in Natchez’s history as these two separate schools were the beginning of a new era. In January of 1970, the Natchez-Adams School District was ordered to comply with a forced federal desegregation plan. This “order” brought about the end of Sadie V. Thompson and Natchez-Adams high schools and the separation of longtime friends and everlasting memories.
On the opening day of school, September 9, 1970, two new high schools existed in the Natchez-Adams school system — North Natchez High School and South Natchez High School. The student body at North Natchez was and continued to remain predominately African-American until its closure in August 1989. South Natchez was composed of a predominately caucasian student body environment.
Yet, the most distinguished exception is that this class (1971) is the only class with their class rings form one school and diplomas from two different schools. These occurrences are remarkable, but the most extraordinary is the friendships that were forged a long time before the last year of our high school days were shifted “upside down” though they remain solid today.
Despite the closure of both high schools, we pressed forward with school life, which included extra-curricular activities and academics being our sole purpose for attending school. As a result, these two high school graduations were held in May of 1971. Over 300 diplomas were awarded to African-American students from both schools.
The late Mr. Robert Lewis served as the first principal at North Natchez, and the assistant principals were the late Mr. Walter Nelson and the late Mr. Claude Porter. Serving at the helm of South Natchez as principal was Mr. Robert Barrett and the late Mr. Claude Porter as assistant principal.
The student body at North Natchez selected green and gold as its school colors and the Ram as their mascot. South Natchez’s student body selected the Colonel as its mascot with blue and white as their school colors.
Since January of 2015, plans have been under way for the 45th class reunion. Members of the North and South Natchez class of 1971 will come from near and far to “reconnect and reacquaint” for three days, commencing on Friday, July 1, and concluding on Sunday, July 3, in the historic city of Natchez, where it all began for this exceptional class. Whereas, this event will be held in conjunction with Natchez’s 300th birthday celebration!
For additional information, please use these class resources. The class website is rams71.weebly.com or contact Gary Wallace at 601-506-8066, Bessie Green-Bradley at 601-442-6158, Shirley Clay-Sashfras at 601-446-8875, Betty McDonald-Vantree at 601-454-5060, Katie Bland-Cage at 601-807-3747, Addie Paxton-Robinson at 601-442-8347 or Rosena Mayberry-Profice at 601-442-2782.
The deadline to register for the reunion and pay fees is before or by May 31.
Shirley Clay-Sashfras is an organizer of the Classes of 1971 reunion.