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Class of 1929 reunites

June 12, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

WILLIAMSPORT - At 85 years old, Henrietta Betts Potter is still the baby of the group.

The Homewood Retirement Community resident was one of 23 Hagerstown High Class of 1929 members who attended the group's 70th class reunion at the Williamsport retirement complex on Saturday.

It was to be the class's last reunion, Committee Chairperson Potter said.

Such gatherings to share memories now provide the only revisitation to high school days for the 41 living members of the 152-student graduating class.

A Hagerstown landmark, the old high school and later a junior high on Potomac Avenue was demolished in 1980, after being abandoned in 1979 when Northern Middle School was built several blocks away.

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"I went by for months with my eyes closed. I just couldn't take it," said Potter, who skipped third and fifth grades to become the youngest graduate in the class at age 15.

A brick from the old school rested on the table at the entrance to the luncheon room. Other memorabilia will be donated to the Washington County Historical Society, Potter said.

The Class of 1920 entered Hagerstown High as sophomores in the fall of 1926, when the school opened. Times were much different then, class members said.

Students chose to tackle either the academic, general or commercial curriculum, said Homewood resident Harold Wyand, 88.

They traveled to school on foot, or by train or trolley. Automobiles were rare, he said.

It was safe to walk through City Park and the downtown area at night, Potter said.

In-school violence was almost nonexistent, said Elizabeth Zimmerman Bragunier, 87, of Hagerstown.

"Our principal, John D. Zentmyer, was strict. We were scared to death of him, but we also liked him," Potter said.

"We never had any problems. Our parents trusted us and we wanted them to trust us," said Dorothy Needy Whitesel, 86, of Waynesboro, Va.

"We were pretty well-behaved. It wasn't anything like today," said Hagerstown resident Wilson O'Connell, 87. "You walked a tight line."

Several class members said it was exciting to attend a coed school for the first time.

Until Hagerstown High was opened, students attended all-boys or all-girls high schools in the area.

"Oh, the association between boys and girls was great," Wyand said.

"It was a real treat," Potter added.

Is that why nearly all of the 152 young faces in the black-and-white graduation photograph on display at the reunion are smiling?

"Maybe," said Frances Reynolds Foltz, 87, of Waynesboro, Pa. "Probably."

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