BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Significant changes have taken place at North Greene High School over the past five decades, but for those attending a recent gathering of NGHS teachers and early alumni, the school is still what it was in the mid-1960s -- the heart of Baileyton.
The relatively small high school has served teenagers from the northernmost portion of the county for 50 years -- since 1963 -- and the anniversary prompted a recent celebration at the school ... and a walk down memory lane.
Principal David McLain opened the high school to the community on Saturday, April 13, as an opportunity to view memorabilia, walk the halls, and see the changes.
Attendees also heard from two former principals -- Richard Morrison, who served from 1986 to 1996, and Donna Waddle, who served from 1996 to 2007.
"It's a lot better than it was when I was here," Morrison said, emphasizing the benefits of a "young principal and a good, Christian, hard-working staff."
Waddle also praised McLain as being of good character, and motivated for the welfare of the students.
Moreover, she noted the school's recent facilities growth, with a new agriculture shop and band room, as well as improved safety.
"North Greene has been responsible for the education of many respectable and productive citizens," she said, listing college professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers and community leaders.
"I believe that we make a difference in the world one life at a time," Waddle added, calling on attendees to forever cherish the friendships they made in the school.
McLain also took the opportunity to speak, and provided some history concerning the school's formation.
In the 1960-1961 school year, McLain said, the Greene County Board of Education approved consolidation of Baileyton and Ottway high schools.
That "dream came true" the very next year, he said.
However, many citizens today, including McLain himself, often wonder why the school came to be located off the beaten path. "It's built in a hole. We're good for a tornado," he joked.
McLain said his research has turned up three theories:
* The current Baileyton Highway wasn't finished when the high school opened.
* The location was based on political reasons related to who owned what land and what areas were intended for growth.
* Baileyton and Ottway were such fierce competitors that they put it in such a random spot as to make both sides mad.
Whatever the real reason, "It's not the bricks and mortar that makes the school," McLain said.
He noted many years of accomplishments, including achievements in both sports and academics.
"We've done great things at North Greene in the last 50 years, and we're going to continue to do those great things," he said.
"Education, better than all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer."
Following the ceremony, many attendees stayed to roam the halls and enjoy punch, sharing memories and exploring photos and trophies.
Baileyton Vice Mayor Ken Bailey Sr. paused to reminisce about his days as assistant principal at the school, helping with girls softball and basketball there, and joining in as a part of the community.
"It sure has changed a lot," he said. "They've made a lot of progress."
Baileyton's mayor, Tommy Casteel, echoed that sentiment and praised the school for being a quiet center to the community.
As a part of the 50-year celebration, the North Greene High School Class of 1990 is spearheading a NGHS Husky Trail brick sidewalk to cover the front entrance at the school.
Alumni and the community may purchase engraved bricks for $20 each.
The walkway will replace the walkway created by the Class of 1990 as its senior class project and will extend to the front entrance of the school and the patio area.
Bricks may be purchased as graduation gifts, as birthday gifts, as memorial gifts, to honor individuals or teams, etc.
Jeffers Funeral & Cremation Services will be providing brick engraving services for the project.
Sales of bricks will conclude May 15, 2013.
For more information regarding the project, please contact Nikki Carter Pierce at 273-0897 or Angie Wilcox Weems at 823-0135.