Column: Newnan graduations - 1955, 2012

Guest column by Norma Haynes
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With 540 students graduating this year from Newnan High School, I am remembering my own graduation in 1955 when we were a class of 99.
And, of course, there are many more graduates in our county’s other schools which were not present in 1955.
We entered the Newnan High School building on LaGrange Street the second half of our freshman year. It was brand new, and we were so excited. There was no football field or gymnasium on the site during my high school years there, and we continued to go to Wesley Street which was the center of all our activities.
The old gym, which still stands, was our basketball haven. I well remember the beautiful wood floors and the echoes of the students as we cheered on our Newnan High Tigers. The football field was across the driveway from the gym beside the swimming pool, and the baseball field was next to the gym. Life, for us, revolved around the Wesley Street complex where we also spent our summers at the city pool there on Duncan Street.
The Newnan semi-pro baseball team, the Newnan Browns, played their games during the summer on the field adjacent to the gymnasium in which the team members dressed. So, the Wesley Street complex was a year-round center of fun-filled days and nights for those of us who were part of the 1955 graduation class of Newnan High School.
I was privileged to watch some of this year’s juniors and seniors as they readied for the prom. The activities involved with parents and students blew my mind. I watched the photos being made of the very beautiful girls in their long dresses and the handsome young men in their coats of many colors. I saw them board a huge bus and head to Atlanta for dinner and fun.
It brought back memories of my junior-senior day. There was no prom. We had a Junior-Senior Picnic at Callaway Gardens attended by all our school teachers. We spent the day and were home by dark. That day was so great for me because I thought Callaway Gardens was just wonderful. They had just made the beach there, and we all felt like we were in Florida.

Our Class Day was held at what is now the Wadsworth Auditorium. The girls all wore beautiful long dresses with hoops underneath them to make them stand out — we felt so elegant. The boys were in their best attire as well. Getting into my daddy’s small car with that hoop skirt was quite a project. Of course I had to sit in the back seat by myself. Nobody else could fit in because my hooped skirt took up the whole seat.

The Baccalaureate Sermon was held in the old sanctuary at the First Baptist Church, and our whole class attended. It was a memorable occasion.

Now, most of the graduating seniors go on cruises or trips to the beach. A few of my friends left the morning after graduation for Panama City. It was much later that After-Graduation trips became so popular.

The opportunities afforded our young people today are huge. I am so proud of what Newnan and Coweta County offer these promising boys and girls as they near the end of their school year. There have been so many changes since that long ago year in which I graduated -- some changes are good and some are not so good.

The advances in education these days absolutely blow my mind, but I am very thankful for the dedicated teachers I had during my 12 years in Newnan schools. I am thankful for the support I got in my home and in my church. I wish every graduating senior much success in wherever life takes them, and I will pray for them as they become the leaders in our great nation.



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