MOLLIE SMITH WATERS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
The Forest Home Consolidated School opened in 1928 and closed in 1964. Ten years ago, several of the school’s former students gathered for a reunion, and they have been having one yearly ever since.
This year’s reunion is scheduled for Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. at the Forest Home Methodist Church.
According to Connie Bingham James, a former student of the school and a long-time resident of Forest Home, the reunions have had as few as 15 people attend and as many as 87.
James says what she loves most about the reunions are the stories and memories the attendees share about their time at the school.
One of her favorite stories is about a former principal who went the extra mile to make sure a student with physical disabilities could attend.
“There was a boy who had a physical disability and couldn’t walk,” said James. “The family couldn’t afford to take him to school, and he wasn’t able to ride the school bus. Dr. D. P. Culp bought a little red wagon for the boy. They would back the school bus up to the boy’s porch, and they’d load him onto the bus. They’d roll him around in the wagon all day. He went on to school and studied to be an accountant. All of this was possible because Dr. Culp saw a need and addressed it back in the days when people didn’t address disability issues.”
Stories like this one, said James, are special because they are unique to small towns in America.
James explained that the Forest Home Consolidated School was built to consolidate several one-room school houses in the Forest Home area.
“They consolidated the one in Forest Home, one in Pine Flat, and possibly one in Monterey,” said James. “There could’ve been another one, but we only have sketchy information on that.”
According to James, the consolidated school building stood just past where the Forest Home post office is now located. The building was torn down several years ago, and the site is now filled with trees.
“The school had an auditorium in the middle with two wings and had a bathroom on each wing in each corner,” said James. “The cafeteria was on the end of the right wing. There were four to six classrooms.”
Although the school only had first through sixth grades when James attended, she says many of the older former students say the school may have extended to the tenth grade at one point.
During the reunions, James says she and the other former students spend a great deal of time recounting tales of their favorite teachers, classmates, and sporting events. The school had several sports, including a girls’ basketball team.
James says she hopes this year’s reunion will be well attended.
“Everyone’s invited,” said James. “We meet at 10 a.m. and everyone talks, then we have an opening ceremony with an opening prayer and the school song, then we talk about the different classes, starting with the oldest and moving forward from there. Usually there’s someone new at each reunion.”
James asked for attendees to bring a covered dish for the lunch, which is pot luck. She added that the day will be filled with sharing stories and remembering, which is what reunions are all about.