09/05/10 — Alumni celebrate days past at Norwayne high

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Alumni celebrate days past at Norwayne high

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on September 5, 2010 1:50 AM

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Ms. Norwayne Alumni Geraldine Smith Jones flashes the smile that won her the crown and waves to parade onlookers during the Norwayne School Alumni Parade in Fremont. The parade was one of many events that took place to celebrate the former students of Norwayne High School. This year's theme was "Ordering Our Steps," and proceeds from the weekend's activities will be used to benefit the scholarship fund and Community Center building fund.

FREMONT -- Brenda Hicks watched and waved from her lawn chair Saturday morning as her friends from the Norwayne School Class of 1967 rolled by in the back seat of a car, calling greetings to the dozens of parade-goers lining the streets of Fremont.

"A lot of memories. I love it, I love it," the Norwayne alum said.

The parade kicked off the Norwayne School alumni's 38th annual reunion this weekend. Norwayne was built in 1959 and served as a high school for black students in northern Wayne County before the school system became integrated in 1970. Although Norwayne was a high school for only a brief number of years, its graduates remember their many good times at the school and take pride in celebrating their Norwayne heritage, Ms. Hicks said.

"Norwayne is a middle school now, but they're doing a lot to keep the image of the school. They do a lot, scholarships and things, so it's a beautiful thing. I'm very proud.

"As a matter of fact, that's one of my classmates in that car right there. Hey!" she called to another friend, passing by in a convertible. "It brings back a lot of memories."

All of the classes were represented with their own parade entries, and local officials joined in to welcome the alumni back home. Trucks from the Pikeville Fire Department and Mount Pleasant Fire Department roused the crowd with alarms, and the Charles B. Aycock High School band marched in the parade. Churches and businesses also participated, throwing candy and small treats to the Norwayne graduates' grandchildren who joined in the fun.

Many of the attendees drove for hours, some from all the way across the country, to attend the alumni weekend. Even their families packed up the car for the long Labor Day weekend trip to show their support.

"My mom was in the Class of 1968, so we came back," New York resident Tiffany Simmons said, as her children raced out to catch a shower of wrapped candy tossed from a passing car.

Jimmy Artis, Class of 1970, stood chatting with a crowd of people front of a barbershop in downtown Fremont as they watched the parade roll by. He had only come down to have a haircut, but ended up reconnecting with old friends from Norwayne, he said.

"I think it's nice, real nice," Artis said.

Evelyn Dickerson, Class of 1964, tries to never miss the alumni events, and enjoyed the chance to represent her school.

"You get together with your classmates you haven't seen in a long time, who live in different cities, so it's a good time to come together," she said.

Geraldine Fleming Harper drove all the way from Greensboro to see her Class of 1969 friends ride in the parade, and planned to stay for the rest of the weekend's events.

"We come every year, we have not missed it since it started," she said. "It's just important for us to stay together as classmates, as a school, with some of our fondest memories when we were at Norwayne School ... the choirs, the basketball team, and just being together as a school."

About 350 people were expected to participate in the weekend activities, organizer and alumna Ethel Barnes said.

As the parade wrapped up, cookers smoked hot dogs on the grill down at the park, waiting to greet the participants and bystanders to the start of two days of fellowship and fun. The alumni organization planned an outdoor barbecue, a Saturday night banquet and a dance, Sunday service and evening gospel choir performance and other activities.

"It's really like a homecoming, a really big homecoming," Mrs. Barnes said.