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Football team honored nearly 54 years later
A ceremony on Friday unveiled a plaque honoring the Fair Street High School football teams of 1956 and 57. - photo by Tom Reed

Today’s Fair Street IB World School Tigers celebrated the football champions of yesteryear on Friday.

Students gathered for a schoolwide assembly where four members of the 1956 and 1957 Fair Street football teams were honored for their back-to-back state championships. Team members James Thomas, Benjamin Carter, Kenneth Robinson and Jalasker Lyles attended the assembly.

Fair Street Principal Will Campbell told students the back-to-back state championship wins remain a record in Hall County.

Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell, a Fair Street alum, said he was pleased to share the school’s rich history with its young students.

"It’s a fact that our generation needs to know and your generation needs to know Gainesville has a lot of hidden treasures, but sometimes those treasures don’t need to be hidden. They need to be celebrated," he said.

Following the assembly, Carter unveiled a granite plaque at the front of the school. It was donated by the Fair Street Alumni Association to memorialize the football team’s big wins.

Thomas, a linebacker for the championship teams, spoke to students about his teammates and what it felt like for the all-black team to make history in Gainesville.

"One thing they didn’t tell you about Mr. Carter is that not only did he score the winning touchdown, but he was the fastest guy on the team," Thomas said to kids. "... What a rush it was to be on a team like that. I hope that you, at some point in your life, have an experience such as that."

Carter, 69, played full back on the 1956 and 1957 football teams. He said he was delighted to be recognized by Fair Street students.

"It means a great deal," he said. "I’m proud to be a member of the Fair Street football team."