07/02/08 — Finally ... a yearbook

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Finally ... a yearbook

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 2, 2008 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- When members of the Carver High School Class of 1968 gather for the school's annual Fourth of July reunion weekend they will have something they have been missing for 40 years -- a school yearbook.

And it will be one that offers a unique "then-and-now" perspective of the classmates.

Memories of wrapping the May pole, of basketball games and nurturing teachers are still fresh even after 40 years for Class of 1968 alumni Al Southerland and Jean Whitfield, both of whom have been helping to spearhead the yearbook project.

Until now, those kinds of memories were all that class members had to rely on because for some unknown reason, they never had a yearbook.

Southerland, national president of the Carver High School Alumni and Friends Association, and Mrs. Whitfield agree that some of the blame could be placed on the turbulence of their senior year.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in April of that year and the war in Vietnam weighed heavily on the country -- especially on the young men of draft age.

There was also turbulence at their beloved Carver High School. Southern Wayne High School had opened at Dudley, consolidating high schools at Mount Olive, Grantham, Dudley and Seven Springs.

Carver was next, taking another step toward ending segregation in the county.

Classmates were being shifted to Southern Wayne, and students had been told that the Class of 1968 would be Carver's last. It wasn't. That distinction belongs to the Class of 1970.

"All of those things that went on were still overshadowed by the fond memories we have," Southerland said.

"We loved our school," said Mrs. Whitfield, who was class salutatorian. "Carver has been dear to us."

Some of the blame must also be shouldered by the students, Southerland said.

"We, as youngsters, probably had not understood the importance of a yearbook," he said. "It took a few years after we left to realize how important it was. So 40 years later, bam."

Mrs. Whitfieldd said that the classmates had raised their families and now had the time to work on the project.

She said several class members had been at another classmate's home several years ago when they began talking about not having a yearbook.

"We have had more fun getting it together than any other time during these past 40 years," Southerland said. "Of course, we have been asking why we did not have a yearbook."

It was a small class, numbering between 90-100 students about 30 of whom are included in the 100-page yearbook. Teachers are included, too.

Some classmates could not be located, others declined to be included. The yearbook committee relied on newspaper articles, word of mouth and a database to contact classmates.

One advantage to doing the yearbook after the fact is that "it is all about us," Southerland said.

He noted that yearbooks normally include every grade, but not this one -- it is devoted soley to the Class of 1968.

In some cases, the yearbook committee had to turn to earlier yearbooks to pull together information and photos.

Each person who paid for a yearbook received two pages in it. The left-hand page will be the "then" page with a graduation photo and information about what the student did during the school year. The right-hand page will be the "now" page with color photos and information about the students' lives since graduation.

It is possible there might be a few extra yearbooks available for sale.

The annual four-day alumni weekend will begin with a golf tournament on Thursday, July 3, at the Southern Wayne Country Club. A "youth night" talent show will be held that night at 6 p.m. at Carver Elementary School. Scholarships also will be awarded.

The annual banquet will be held Friday, July 4, at the Lois K. Murphy Regional Center on the campus of Mount Olive College. A reception will start at 6 p.m. followed by the banquet at 7 p.m. Mrs. Whitfield will preside. The Class of 1958 will celebrate its 50th reunion.

A parade will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. and will start in front of the old high school building on South Breazeale Avenue. A membership meeting will start at 11 a.m. followed by a picnic at noon.

The Class of 1968 will hold a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at the old school cafeteria at which time the new yearbook will be unveiled.

A dance will start at 9 a.m. at the Southern Wayne Country Club and the weekend will conclude on Sunday with a prayer breakfast.

Southerland, who is retired from the Air Force, teaches at Goldsboro High School. Mrs. Whitfield is vice president for operations at Home Health and Hospice Care.

"Friendships that developed then are still there," Southerland said of his days at Carver.

Southerland recalled that the mothers of his two closest friends worked in the school cafeteria. He said they would go to a side door to "slip some food."

"We'd be getting two or three hot dogs instead of one," he said.

They both recall teacher, now county Commissioner J.D. Evans, who was teaching a physics class.

"He had basically told us we would, without option, get in his physics class," Mrs. Whitfield said.

The class was not required and most seniors decided they were not going to take it, she said.

Southerland and Mrs. Whitfield said they were in other classes when Evans came and got them and told them to go to his physics class.

"And we did -- we weren't happy about it," she said. "He said a day is going to come when you don't put your feet under your mother's table and you have got to prepared for this world for it is vicious out here."

Mrs. Whitfield also remembers English teacher Gerald Simmons who told the class, "you don't pass this class then you don't walk (graduate)." She said her classmates were convinced that if they didn't pass they would not graduate.

Southerland said looking back he saw the respect that the students had for their teachers.

"Some of those teachers didn't have cars, but they would show up at your house before you got home from school," he said. "Doing your homework and your work was a given because they would follow up.

"It was pretty much required of you to be active in school."