Looking back: Schools hold graduation ceremonies

Published 10:14 am Friday, June 1, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local historian Clyde Parker.

June 1, 1962

High school students graduate

On Wednesday, all four high schools in the city and county will hold their graduation ceremonies. Franklin High School will graduate 66 students. At least 43 have made plans for higher education. The ceremonies will start at 8 p.m. in the school auditorium. Valedictorian is Leigh Conwell, and Jack Minton is salutatorian.

Franklin’s Hayden High School, in exercises starting at 8:30 p.m., will graduate 51 seniors. Four seniors will speak, including Valedictorian Patricia McClenny, Salutatorian Edward Lawrence, Class Vice President Fletcher Valentine and Mabel Artis, who is ranked third from the top in her class.

Southampton High School will graduate 58 students. Thirty will seek higher education. Ceremonies will begin at 8 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Honor students speaking include Pam Pulley, Katheryn Pittman, Kenneth Gray, John Sykes, Joan Byant, Julia Griffin, Wayne Overby, Franklin Beale, Jackie Galtress and Shirley Everettes.



During an assembly at Franklin High School last week, Ann Carr, editor of this year’s Franklin High School Annual, surprised teacher V.D. “Prudence” Thorpe by letting her know that “The Log” for 1962 is dedicated to her.

Carr called Thorpe to the front of the auditorium and read lines from the annual that call attention to her many decades of dedicated service to the teaching profession.

(Note: Over the years, for the most part, Thorpe taught English. She was proficient in the English language and was well versed in English literature. If you were in a classroom with her, as I was in 1955-1956, you know that she was especially fond of Shakespeare. Her voice resonated with almost constant quotes such as “out, out brief candle, life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more, it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” For some reason those lines stuck with me and to this day, I can remember and recite them.

Years later, in the 1970s, I was at Franklin High School for a meeting. As I was leaving, walking down the hall to the front door, I passed a classroom with its door wide open. I heard a voice from the past. It was Thorpe, in front of her class, reciting those memorable lines from Shakespeare — “Out, out brief candle …. .”

I stood at the door and watched and listened. When Thorpe realized I was standing at the doorway, she turned toward me. The expression on her face was a look of half frown and half smile — and then slight laughter when she realized who I was. But she did not stop her recitation).



A contract will be signed this week for construction of a $225,000 medical office next to the new 108-bed Southampton Memorial Hospital, which is rising on the lower part of Hillview Farm in Franklin.

Hospital President Sol Rawls Jr., whose family provided the land for both the hospital and office building, said Friday that 11 doctors have indicated they will lease offices in the medical center.

The medical center will be financed using $75,000 in hospital funds and the balance through a loan.

“It will be very modern,” Rawls said. “And it will be constructed so that it can be easily enlarged in the future if a need develops.”

Construction on the new hospital has passed the halfway mark. It should be ready for occupancy next spring. Rawls told the Franklin Rotary Club that ceremonies for the laying of the hospital cornerstone are tentatively slated for July 1.

Rawls suggested that folks might consider using some of the land behind the hospital for a nursing home.

“It’s something to think about,” he said. “First we have a hospital and a medical center to finish.”

Rawls stated that the total cost of the new hospital will be about $3.2 million as estimated when work began in April 1961. Some $1.6 million was pledged through local fund drives. The rest will come from federal and state sources. Of the $1.6 million, about $1 million has been collected, leaving $665,000 in pledges to go.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is ParkerC@seva-redcross.org.