NEWLAND — Dozens of alumi from Newland High School gathered to catch up and reminisce on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the former school’s Rock Gym.
Newland High School closed in 1968 when the three high schools in the county were consolidated into one. The first all-class NHS reunion was in 2007, said Nancy Morrison, who graduated in 1962. Other than a few years that the reunion had to be canceled due to COVID or weather concerns, they’ve held it annually since.
“We usually have to jump through a lot of hoops, but this year we decided to keep it simple,” she said.
Instead of hauling items to the venue, they used the recreation center’s tables and chairs, and some people sat on the bleachers as well. It worked out wonderfully, Morrison said. Instead of working the whole time, those running the reunion were able to visit with former classmates during the event, which Morrison said was a nice change of pace.
Bill Daniels, who graduated in 1968 and owns Wild Bill’s Unique Originals, donated a handcrafted table he made of wood and resin to raffle off at the reunion. The funds from the raffle, as well as the donations that people gave separately, go toward the two scholarships that the alumni sponsor. Up to five students at Avery County High School each year are awarded the Newland Alumni Scholarship or the James C. Beasley Scholarship. This year, ACHS graduates Levi Andrews and Taylor Page received the James C. Beasley Scholarship and Colton Hoilman received the Newland Alumni Scholarship.
Around 140 people attended this year’s reunion, Morrison said. The class of 1951 was the oldest class represented, with Leona Stout Smith being the sole attendee from her graduating class. Individual classes gathered to take photos together following a brief ceremony, which included the school’s alma mater and recognition of classes.
“We’ve had a really good response,” said Roger Wise, who graduated in 1965. “Not having to worry about COVID has really been a relief.”
The 2023 NHS will be held Saturday, Sept. 16.