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Shawmut prepares for reunion

VALLEY — Many weeks of planning are complete, and hundreds of former students are being contacted about the annual Shawmut School Reunion, which will be taking place on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the W.O. Kent Recreation Center (Shawmut gym) on Shawmut Circle. This will be the 20th year the reunion has taken place, and participation has been strong over that period.

Several hundred people usually pack the gym that day for a time of renewing old acquaintances, looking at old photos, reminiscing about the old days and some unbelievably good food.

“It’s that time of year again,” said Shawmut School Committee member Andrew Harper. “This will be the 20th annual celebration of the Children of the Circle. We’re asking anyone who ever attended Shawmut School to come and to ask others they know who went to school in Shawmut to come and be part of the reunion.”

Sign-in and registration will start at 10 a.m. EDT. Events include a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and door prizes. Lunch will be taking place during the noon hour, and there will be recognitions of those who traveled the longest distances to get there and the crowning of a king and a queen.

“Chicken fingers will be provided,” Harper said. “Bring a covered dish, or a side dish, if you can.”

This year marks the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Shawmut community. Shawmut Mill went into production in 1908, and the surrounding mill village quickly grew. The streets were patterned after those in Washington D.C., with the biggest features being a circle in the heart of town, with two broad streets leading from the main mill tower toward what’s now Highway 29. For years this main thoroughfare has been called Double Drive.

Shawmut’s first school was located in a four-room house on 23rd Place not far from the historic Shawmut Post Office building. As enrollment rapidly grew, the school relocated into a nearby two-story frame building and eventually into a two-story brick building on Shawmut Circle. Shawmut High School had its first graduating class in 1924. It remained a high school until being consolidated with Valley High in 1939. Shawmut then had a grades 1-8 junior high from 1939-69.

The two-story brick school building was eventually torn down and an elementary school located on that site. The nearby Shawmut Community Center (the present W.O. Kent Center) opened in 1954.

In 1975-76, Shawmut Elementary School (now Bob Harding-Shawmut Elementary) became the first elementary school in the Chambers County School District to be accredited.

Proceeds from the annual Shawmut School Reunion go to Bob Harding-Shawmut School to help with various needs.