High school alumni to celebrate 100 years

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NEW SHARON – Framed photos of members of the graduating classes of  New Sharon High School line one half of the hallway at the town office, where the last school was located.

The alumni have some fond memories of their school days and some will share theirs at a reunion in June to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first graduating class in 1911.

Former New Sharon Selectman Jim Smith’s mother, Lena Works was among the first class to graduate. Smith, himself, graduated in 1944.

The last high school, which served students in grades kindergarten through 12, was located where the town office is today, off Cape Cod Hill Road, and where the former SAD 9 central office was located for many years before moving to the Mt. Blue Middle School in Farmington.

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There were three high schools before it, but each burned and were replaced.

New Sharon had its own school system prior to the town joining SAD 9 in the mid 1960s, which is now known as RSU 9, the Mt. Blue Regional School District.

Reunion organizers have been busy holding meetings and making preparations for the celebration. Members shared memories in April during one of their planning sessions.

Art Turner of Norway, a 1957 graduate, said that whenever they had sports everyone had to play or they didn’t have enough for a team.

The teams were known as the New Sharon Rebels in later years, Junior Turner, Art Turner’s younger brother, of Farmington, said. The younger Turner graduated in 1963.

But at one time they were known as the Frontiersmen, Elaine Bailey Millett of Starks, a 1962 graduate, said.

The school colors were maroon and white throughout the years.

Students graduating from the school went on to become professionals such as educators,  administrators, beauticians and veterans, including a four-star general.

Alumni remembered setting up a 24-foot Christmas tree in the school and all the classes got to decorate it and presenting plays.

Students helped teachers teach in those days, Art Turner said.

He and the other organizers were seated in what was known back then as the English and French room. It is currently where the town’s voting booths are located.

Jim Smith said he remembered when he was in the first grade in 1931 and somebody rushed in and said “’the building is on fire.’”

“We rushed out and I brought my chair with me to save it,” he said. The fire was already burning through the floor, he said.

Nora Thombs, another organizer who graduated from the school in 1957 and went on to teach and become a principal, said she remembers that she didn’t believe her parents when they told her the school at the time burned in June 1949.

“It burned during the night. I didn’t believe them,” she said. “They brought me down to see it.  My father died a couple of weeks later.”

“A lot of us here, our parents graduated from here, Junior Turner said.

“Most of our children went here, too,” Thombs said.

The younger Turner graduated in 1963 and had Thombs as an English teacher the last year of school, he said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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