As a little girl, Natalie Campbell grew up dreaming of the day when she would have a chance to become a cheerleader at North Hall High School.
“You grow up in elementary school and you hear the parades and you come to the games on Friday nights and you see girls you know out on the field, you just look up to everybody,” said Campbell, a senior cheerleader at North Hall as the school celebrates it’s 60th anniversary. “You can’t wait until it’s your turn. It almost like if you cheer, if you’re a football player or you’re out on the field for homecoming court, you’re like a celebrity. Everybody knows you.”
Campbell is part of a family tradition that is connected to the school. When she graduates she will become a third generation of North Hall graduates in her family. One grandmother, Joan Wiley Gilleland, graduated in 1965, and another, Nikki Campbell graduated in 1969. Jack Campbell, Natalie’s grandfather, graduated from the high school in 1967 and her dad, Jack, graduated in 1991.
Campbell was on the cheerleader float for the annual Homecoming Parade through the community Friday morning that came before the pep rally in the gym. The parade was the senior’s last as a student.
“I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else for high school,” she said. “It’s crazy to think that almost everyone that I know has gone here. There are so many traditions that I would never want to miss out on. That’s why it’s so bittersweet that I’m living out my last year to do all that.”
She said the 60th anniversary of the school this year is a “big deal” for her.
“Pretty much my whole family went to school here,” she said.
Jim Haynes, who was taking photos during Friday’s parade, is also part of three generations of North Hall graduates. Haynes is a 1971 graduate of the school, his daughter, Jordan Greaver, graduated in 1999 and twin daughters, Abby Murphy and Audrey Rassel graduated in 2001. Haynes’ grandson, Drew Coker, graduated from North Hall in 2015 and Drew’s brother Reece, is a sophomore this year.
“North Hall has seen a lot of my family,” he said.
Tradition is an important part of North Hall High, according to Principal Jamey Moore.
“It is amazing to think about the lives that have been impacted by the many adults that have worked at North Hall High and the thousands upon thousands of interactions that have happened on our campus since the doors opened in 1957...” Moore wrote in an email to The Times Thursday. “We are deeply proud to be in our 60th year of celebrating our homecoming together and educating the North Hall Community. We believe that our students can look to the traditions of our past 60 years to see the promise of our future, and our alumni and staff have proven with their lives that anything is possible for our 60th graduating class and beyond.”
The school has also been part of a family tradition for Assistant Principal Kenny Childs, who started teaching at North Hall the year after his parents, Doug and Betty Childs, retired from working at the school. Doug was a teacher and coach, while Betty started as a teacher at the school in 1979 and later became assistant principal.
Kenny Childs, who graduated in 1991, said he is among many former students who now serve on the faculty and staff. His sister, Allison Childs Turk, and brother, Chris, also graduated from North Hall.
“We’ve had a nice kind of continuation there,” Kenny Childs said of following his parents on staff. “It’s a place that’s got a real strong connection to our family and real personal connection to me. Having the chance to be here as an assistant principal now, it’s special.’
Tessa Shirley retired last year after teaching 17 of her 30 years at the school. All three of her children graduated from the school. Her retirement didn’t last long since she is teaching two classes this fall.
“I wasn’t quite ready to give it all up,” she wrote in an email to The Times.
While she said she loves watching students, staff and faculty participate in the various traditions. she said her favorite of those is Yearbook Day. She serves as yearbook adviser at North Hall.
“I love that even in this world driven by test scores and other statistics, that we can still enjoy a school-wide assembly celebrating the distribution of the yearbook...” she wrote in the email. “I am currently facilitating the production of my 17th book, and every year I value the privilege of watching my yearbook students engage in the organized chaos of distributing books by rolling chairs laden with books to their designated homerooms.”