07/04/10 — Southern Wayne host first all-class reunion

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Southern Wayne host first all-class reunion

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on July 4, 2010 1:50 AM

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Friends reminisce about their years as students at Southern Wayne High School. From left, Robert Withfield, who played basketball, Torrio Warren who played football, Alando Mitchell, who was the co-captain of the drum line, and Willie Martin, who played football, talk during the reunion held at Westbrook Park Saturday in Mount Olive.

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Shirette Battle, Latasha Elliott, and Katina Darden watch as some of the alumni play a game in the gym at Southern Wayne High School Saturday afternoon.

Roy Thompson's Southern Wayne basketball days ended in 1988, but the memories are still vivid -- and cherished.

" I had a love for basketball -- it was my love, I love everything about it -- exercise, practice and the game itself," Thompson said, looking back at his glory days. He can still rattle off the names of those teammates from 22 years ago -- Carl Mason, Arthur Cousins, Mike Richardson, Dexter Evans and brothers Cedric and Mike Broadhurst, among others.

Thompson got to rekindle those memories on Saturday, as Southern Wayne High School held its first multi-class reunion, inviting everyone who had ever attended the school.

Events started with music and games at Westbrook Park in Mount Olive in the morning and were to end with a dance at the Southern Wayne gym Saturday night.

Thomspon, sitting in the bleachers, described how close he felt to his classmates.

But soon after graduating, he would be separated by the first Iraq War. Thompson said he enjoyed his time in the Army. But his parents, while proud of their son, worried about the dangers of war and convinced him to get an honorable discharge.

"I went ahead and got out of it -- I wasn't tired of the Army. But my parents ... after the Gulf War, they said 'You might end up going back.'"

Katrina Ashford of Mount Olive was socializing with old friends near the entrance to the gym. The 1991 graduate said most of her classmates probably remember her as quiet and shy, but she is a different person now, she said.

Mrs. Ashford said her transition from passive to assertive began with basic law enforcement training, which led to a seven-year career as an officer with the Goldsboro Police Department.

Her career showed her a side of the world that she had not seen before, she said.

"When I became a cop, I didn't know things like the crimes and scenes I witnessed happened in the world," she said. "It opened up a whole new perspective for me that I certainly didn't have when I was in high school."

One of the truly shocking things to her, she said, was the amount of narcotics trafficking that she saw.

"Just the amount of drugs -- I never really even saw drugs before I went to the academy and became a police officer. It taught me to be a lot more aware of the dangers out there, and how to teach my kids."

Some people might even call her an "overprotective mom, she said -- but she believes she is making the right decisions as a parent.

"I know what's out there, so my children, I know where they go, and who they go there with," Mrs. Ashford said of children Arnez, 3, and Qwandesheya, 18.

Although police work revealed the seamy side of life to the 1991 graduate, the mother of two said there were positive things about the training and work as well.

"Police academy taught me a lot -- I guess most of all, to be respectful of other, and be patient -- lots of patience," Mrs. Ashford said.

Lena Diane Morrisey, of the class of 1982, was attending the reunion with a fellow Southern Wayne graduate -- her daughter, Ebony Harvey, 28.

Ebony graduated in 2000, and Mrs. Morrisey in 1982.

Mrs. Morrisey is a certified nursing assistant and is now attending Wayne Community College in pursuit of a nursing degree.

Miss Harvey said she remembers her senior year as one of the best times of her life. She was a cheerleader who got to closely watch a her beloved Saints notch a winning football season.

"I just remember the school spirit was so high," she said. There was just so much camaraderie between the students."

That was on display Saturday, and organizers have said they hope to make the event an annual gathering.