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North Hall High prepares for 50th anniversary
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Students and alumni spent Thursday making final preparations for a weekend celebration of North Hall High School hitting the half-century mark.

The school plans to hold its annual homecoming parade this morning or afternoon, depending on the weather, featuring floats that represent each of the decades making up the school’s history.

And then, before tonight’s game with Gilmer County, a band featuring alumni and current musicians will perform on the football field.

"It’s neat to see the whole community coming together," said Lori White, a 1978 graduate and 22-year math teacher at the school off Mount Vernon Road. "I’m looking forward ... to seeing some people I haven’t seen in a while."

North Hall opened in 1957, along with East Hall High School and then-South Hall High School, marking the end of close-knit community high schools spread throughout Hall County.

South Hall High no longer exists. The building still belongs in the school system, however, as South Hall Middle School, which also has had its share of updates and expansions.

Johnson High School opened in 1972, pulling students from South Hall High.

In 1957, according to newspaper accounts, the county system was pushing to modernize its schools and accommodate a bulging student enrollment.

It had 4,642 students (compared to 25,000 today). And newspaper reports at the time said the district was under pressure by the state to hire more teachers and build more schools.

Joy Autry, a retired teacher who began her stint at North Hall High in 1967, is helping to lead the school’s reunion efforts.

The event will spill over to Saturday, when the school will hold guided tours every 20 minutes (beginning in the front lobby) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., entertainment in the football stadium and games.

Also featured are class reunions in the stadium and a memorabilia room in the media center.

A program with presentations and recognitions, including of North Hall’s first class, is set for 1 p.m.

The band and various vendors will provide food.

Also, shuttles will run from parking lots at Mount Vernon Elementary School, which is at 4844 Jim Hood Road, and Mount Vernon Baptist Church, which is north of the school at 5233 Will Wheeler Road.

On Thursday, students were working on floats and classroom door displays.

Several students in the peer leadership class left campus briefly to work on a float featuring iconic symbols from 1957 through the 1960s. The float was stored in a building at student Madison Savage’s house.

Trojan green runs through the veins of Savage’s family. Her grandmother and parents graduated from North Hall and she and her brother are set for 2010 and 2011 graduations, respectively.

And Savage has another brother, a sixth-grader at North Hall Middle, with his feet on that path.

"We’re all proud to say we all went to North Hall," said the sophomore.

Several of North Hall’s teachers, including Marlena Nix and Linda Hawkins-Whitehead, are North Hall graduates.

"I’m seeing (students who are) grandchildren of people I went to school with," said Hawkins-Whitehead, a 1968 graduate.

Nix, a 1984 graduate and a psychology and honors world history teacher, said, "You still see the community pride and the family atmosphere that has always been very, very special to me as a student and then as a teacher."

And though Autry is not an alumnus, she nearly feels like one. Her husband and his brothers and her son are all graduates of the school, and she taught many of those helping her in the reunion efforts.

"These people have become my family," she said.

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