County schools reunion Saturday at Clear Creek

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 2004

[11/4/04]Rivals for years, former students of the three county high schools that were merged to form Warren Central High School 40 years ago will gather Saturday to celebrate their grown-up feelings, “friends forever.”

Graduates of Culkin, Jett and Redwood will put aside those old competitive differences, including the times they painted each other’s goal posts or stole items from rival schools.

They will spend the day together at the pavilion at Clear Creek Golf Course in Bovina, sharing old stories, memories and a covered-dish dinner.

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The organizers will even sell coffee cups and huggies carrying a phrase to sum up the schools’ connection “fierce rivals, friends forever,” said organizer Emily Harrell.

A 1962 graduate of Culkin, Harrell said students from all of the high schools have always been close. Most of them attended church together, were in the same 4-H club or went to the same high school dances, she said.

“We’re all intermarried or interchurched,” said Joyce May, a 1962 graduate of Redwood. “We’re still friends and see each other around.”

The 12 organizers, who say they have been tossing the reunion idea around for years, are encouraging all graduates and their friends to come out Saturday.

The three schools closed in the spring of 1965, months before Warren Central opened. The buildings became elementary schools for the Vicksburg Warren School District, but Redwood is the only one still in use. Jett was sold in 1993 and later demolished, and Culkin closed in 1999.

School spirit and a little bit of rivalry still remains for the former students, who remember nothing but good times, said planner Red Kleinman of the Jett class of ’62.

“We had a good time we talk so often about what a good time we had,” Harrell said.

May said she and her classmates didn’t realize there was a world outside their Redwood haven.

“We had hands-on teachers,” she said, “Problems were handled immediately.”

Many of these memories are sure to surface as the more than 200 expected classmates gather.

“We’ll be looking back to older days,” Harrell said.

Kleinman said only one person out of every 25 he has contacted by phone or e-mail, has said he can’t make it.

“I expect it’s gonna’ be crowded,” he said, “This is how good it is people from Culkin are calling people at Redwood.”

Kleinman, who played football for Jett, said athletics among the county schools were competitive, but the schools produced a lot of good athletes. Two class members planning to attend Saturday’s reunion have been inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame:

Glynn Griffing, a 1958 Culkin graduate who played for Ole Miss and was later drafted by New York Giants and the Houston Oilers, was inducted in 2002. Johnny Brewer, a graduate of Redwood in 1955, also played football for Ole Miss before starting a career with the Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

Harrell said members of the three football teams are excited about seeing their former gridiron rivals.

Coaches and teachers are also expected to come Saturday.

Gordon Cotton, curator of the Old Court House Museum, was a graduate of Jett and later was a teacher there. He will speak at the reunion, Harrell said. With all the excitement over this year’s get-together, the committee is already looking for a bigger location for next year.

“We suspect strongly that this will be an annual thing,” Harrell said.