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Reunion draws former students from Clermont
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Students pose outside of the dormitory at a Clermont school.

Reunion set Sunday for alumni of Clermont schools

The Clermont Historical Society is holding a class reunion Sunday for any students who attended one of the Clermont schools.

The reunion is set for 2-5 p.m. at the Clermont Chattahoochee Center (former Clermont Gym), 639 Main St. Light refreshments will be provided.

Attendees are invited to bring school memorabilia, pictures and stories to share. Class pictures will be made.

For more information, contact Sandra Cantrell, President of the Clermont Historical Society, at 678-300-5206.

When former students of Clermont schools come to their reunion in the old gymnasium today, they might not be able to ring their school bell, but they can look it over as they exchange memories with each other.

The bell is a part of the history of education in the community, whose formal schools date to the 1880s. Rex Farmer, who attended Clermont High School, remembers boys and girls borrowing the bell, putting it into the back of a farm truck and riding through town ringing it at Christmas and New Year’s.

The bell might date to when Chattahoochee High School was in session.

Farmer was the only graduate of Clermont High School in 1952 because that was the year a 12th grade was added, and he already had enough credits to finish.

Sandra Cantrell, president of the historical society, with help from others has compiled a history of Clermont schools. Concord Baptist Church established a two-teacher school, Concord Academy, in the late 1880s or early 1890s. It later moved into a church house on the site where Concord’s chapel is today. As the community grew, a new school was built near the present church sanctuary. That building burned, but was quickly rebuilt.

About 1901, Chattahoochee Baptist Association founded Chattahoochee High School. The school started out in a two-story structure with Concord Academy Elementary School, 150 students in all. By the second year, the building was remodeled and an annex added, the entire complex including recitation rooms, library, reading rooms, debating halls and a chapel that would seat 500.

Fire struck again in 1908, destroying the building, but school leaders rallied the community to rebuild. The 1910-11 school year saw enrollment grow to 350.

In 1919, when the Rev. A.F. O’Kelley was Concord’s pastor, the present brick building of the chapel was built, and the old church wooden building was rolled across the road for the school.

Tuition to Chattahoochee was $1 per month with an incidental fee of 10 cents. Those who had to board in a dormitory would pay $5-$6 monthly. Tuition rose to $4 in 1920 or $15 for room and board.

Students could not smoke, play cards, use profanity, drink alcoholic beverages or keep firearms. They couldn’t date fellow students, and trips to town were limited. However, the student body would picnic at Wauka Mountain or Glade Shoals on occasion.

Girls wore uniforms, but boys could wear suits or overalls.

Ministerial students could attend Chattahoochee free and would speak at Concord Baptist.

At one time Chattahoochee had the highest enrollment and was the only accredited high school in Hall County other than Gainesville High School. Early in its history, Chattahoochee had an arrangement with Mercer University to allow graduates to enter its sophomore class without further examination.

When Hall County began a free high school program, Chattahoochee became a part of it in 1930. It continued with the Chattahoochee name until 1945.

Tony Walker became noted as the school’s basketball coach, winning the state championship in 1935. A member of that team, Whack Hyder, later coached basketball at Georgia Tech.

Lenora Chambers, 90, taught at Clermont more than 32 years, retiring later from Wauka Mountain. She was 18 years old when she started teaching first grade in 1944. Teachers in those days might have 40 to 45 students, and Mrs. Chambers remembers how hectic the first day of school was with children crying, one even running out the door and across Highway 129 until his mother caught up with him,

Children could go to O’Kelley’s Store across from the school before classes started, but once in the school they couldn’t return to the store. Students used pit toilets outside, the girls on one side of the school, the boys on the other.

During World War II, Clermont School started in mid-July, Mrs. Chambers said, go for six or eight weeks, then dismiss when crops came in on farms. They would return after harvest.

There was no air conditioning in the school, and pot-bellied stoves heated rooms.

Clermont High School operated in the county school system from 1930 till 1957, when grades 9-12 were transferred to North Hall High School. In 1971, grades seven and eight also went to North Hall, leaving a six-grade elementary school in Clermont until the mid-1970s.

John Corley was principal for both Clermont and Brookton Schools until they merged with the new Wauka Mountain Elementary in Quillian’s Corner.

Concord Baptist Church, a pioneer in education in the Clermont area, operates Chattahoochee Christian School today.

Today’s Clermont Schools’ reunion is scheduled 2-5 p.m. in the old gym. Former students are encouraged to bring photos, memorabilia and memories. Light refreshments will be served.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.

Reunion set Sunday for alumni of Clermont schools

The Clermont Historical Society is holding a class reunion Sunday for any students who attended one of the Clermont schools.

The reunion is set for 2-5 p.m. at the Clermont Chattahoochee Center (former Clermont Gym), 639 Main St. Light refreshments will be provided.

Attendees are invited to bring school memorabilia, pictures and stories to share. Class pictures will be made.
For more information, contact Sandra Cantrell, President of the Clermont Historical Society, at 678-300-5206.


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