Shawmut School alumni celebrate 25th reunion

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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VALLEY — The 25th Shawmut School reunion took place Saturday inside the gym at the W.O. Kent Recreation Center on Shawmut Circle. The school colors of purple and gold were everywhere, and there was a memorabilia table set up where people could thumb through photo albums of the good old days. There was lots of reminiscing, good food and fellowship.

The program began during the noon hour with the singing of the school’s alma mater. Laura Smith and Janice Dallas led everyone with “Purple and Gold Forever,” which begins with the lines “We love to sing of Shawmut School, Our noble alma mater, In all the world she is the best, And none can ever be greater.”

There was the crowning of the king and queen. Frank Gaither, 92, was this year’s king, and Betty Mitchell, who will be 89 on Aug. 22, was crowned king.

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Mr. Gaither attended Shawmut School from 1937 to 1946 and graduated from Valley High in 1950.

Some Shawmut School alumni came home from as far away as Anderson, South Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee. More than 100 people were present inside the gym and enjoyed a noon-hour meal of catfish, chicken fingers and all the trimmings. Among those present were Chambers County Probate Judge Paul Story, Valley Council Member Jim Clark, former City Attorney John Ben Jones and wife Anita, famed mountain climber Hugh Morton and Roger McDonald, for whom the ballfield on Shawmut Circle is now named.

The reunion didn’t take place in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid but resumed last year.

The Shawmut community began in 1908 as a village for the newly constructed Shawmut Mill. The community’s first school was a four-room house off 23rd Place. Many early Shawmut residents called it “the Little School,” the building later became a library. A two-story frame building later served as a school.  It was replaced by a two-story brick building many called “the Big School.” The first graduating class at Shawmut High took place in 1924. The final one took place in the spring of 1938. The following year students from the Shawmut community went to the newly-opened Valley High.

The brick building continued as an elementary and junior high until 1960-61 when it was torn down to make way for what’s now Bob Harding-Shawmut Elementary School. Mr. Harding was the principal at Shawmut School from 1946 until 1972.