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Newton County High School grads reuniting after 65 years
NCHS yearbook staff
Members of the 1956 yearbook staff at Newton County High School pose for a photo. (Special | Sid Haggard)

COVINGTON, Ga. — Sid Haggard graduated in 1956 from Newton County High School and eventually returned to Covington in the 1990s after working throughout the country.

He recalled what awaited new male high school graduates at the time in Newton County.

“It was either (working at) the mill or the Army,” Haggard said.

Gloria Gray Hayes also graduated with Haggard the same year but never left Newton County.

Both made their lives with their families and careers in the decades since graduation. 

They are among the organizers of the 65th reunion of the school’s Class of 1956.

About 62 are signed up to attend the event Thursday, Sept. 2, at the Lions Club building in Academy Springs Park in Covington, Haggard said. 

It will include a reception and a catered dinner. Organizers also plan to spotlight the Homer Sharp Scholarship Fund, which will receive donations and money raised from registrations after expenses, Haggard said.

“A committee of classmates volunteers has been working for several weeks to ensure the evening will be memorable,” Haggard said.

Some attendees will travel from as far as California for the reunion of the seventh graduating class of the school, Haggard said. However, others stayed and made their careers in the area, such as retired Judge Sam Ozburn and banker Rob Fowler, he said. 

Haggard said he believed many of his classmates wanted to attend “just to stay in touch” with their former classmates. 

Of the 136 members of the graduating class, about 70 have passed away, he said.

Hayes said she had attended the 50th and 60th reunions of the close-knit group and did not think twice when one of her best friends called in June and asked her to “get involved” in organizing it.

She said many attendees still live in Newton County. Others left the county to reside elsewhere but “their heart always remained here and they wanted to come back” for Thursday’s reunion, she said.

“I’m hoping to have a good time,” she said. 

The school opened in 1949 on the current site of the Newton County School System’s central office on Newton Drive in Covington. Nearby Homer Sharp Stadium is named for the man who was the school’s principal and handed them their diplomas on May 28, 1956.

Unlike Haggard, Hayes never left Newton County following graduation. 

Three of her siblings also attended Newton County High School. The Salem community native worked for the county government for 28 years before retiring in 2006.

Haggard began his career with the Forestry Service before he traveled the country working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

He and his late wife raised a family in the Washington, D.C., area before returning to Covington after his retirement.

He was involved with the 50th and 60th reunions and took the initiative to organize this reunion.

Haggard said the main difference between post-graduation aspirations for males in 1956 and later decades was the opportunities that became available.

Young men now have many more options than his generation did in Covington, he said.

“Now, it’s which college do they want to attend.”