This article was adapted from a talk Susan gave at the 30th Reunion of the Class of '66 on August 17, 1996.
On June 6, 1966, 421 Baker graduates marched across the stage of the Municipal Auditorium, leaving behind four fun-filled years chock full of memories that would continue to linger in our lives. Although we have all gone in many directions, there is one commonality: we share the memories of days past -- those years filled with sock hops, Panama City, Sadie Hawkins, Cherry Cokes, and pep rallies. Many decisions we made during those formative years have affected who we are today. Each one of us took from Baker a sense of hard work, pride, dedication, and a feeling of self-worth, and those wonderful memories. What comes to mind are the lyrics from Barbra Streisand's hit song, The Way We Were. "Memories, line the corners of your mind, misty water-colored memories, of the way we were."
Let's walk down memory lane and remember the way we were.
Our Senior memories begin on August 28, 1965, at the Sixth Annual Junior Optimist Kickoff Dance at the Municipal Auditorium. The Baker High School cheerleaders walked off with all the honors. Never in the history of the Football Kickoff Dance had one school managed to win every trophy -- our senior cheerleaders made this feat possible. Do you remember?
This was the harbinger of a series of accomplishments and achievements that would distinguish our class from all others before and after us.
We entered BHS in the fall of 1965 as proud seniors; we also unveiled a new gym, auditorium, library, senior wing, chemistry lab, and cafeteria with a separate dining room for faculty. The new gym would be christened by an unstoppable basketball team; the new curtains in the auditorium would provide the setting for the "Baker Players" who would entertain us with several outstanding plays and musicals.
Every week was spirit week at Baker, with 100% participation. The auditorium would rock with excitement as we all cheered with anticipation of the upcoming athletic events. The Lions' football season closed out that year with the best record in the history of the school, 8-1-1. Baker High dominated the Ledger-Enquirer Bi City Football Teams Awards. Many of Baker's players were named to the All Bi City Team. How often we shouted at pep rallies, "We're from Baker. Couldn't be prouder, If you can't hear us, we'll yell a little louder!" Do you remember?
The Lions quickly moved into basketball season playing our arch-rival, Columbus High, for the first game. What a way to begin a season, with a 48-38 victory. The Lions were on a roll. Undefeated, Baker entered the Annual Christmas Tournament as a favorite, and before a paid audience of 2,000 clinched the crown for the fourth time in its history. The gym was filled to capacity for every game. Who can forget the 55-foot shot tossed by then-sophomore Mike Stokes which helped defeat Jordan in the last second of overtime play? With a 28-0 record and ranked number one in the state of Georgia and fourth nationally, Baker, the Bi City and Regional champs went to the state finals, finally losing to Butler in the quarter-finals, 65-60. The record of 29-1 was one of the finest ever. Do you remember?
Baker's 1966 athletic victories were far from over. The Lions' Track Team received national recognition when they were rated number one by Track and Field magazine. Many new records were set. Over 23 qualifications were met for the state meet, and once again the Baker Lions secured the Region 1-AAA track and field championship. In 1966 the Lions also clinched the State Class AAA track and field championship for the third year in a row. Do you remember?
Baker's baseball season brought out the best in us. Tennis was also memorable; the Lions were once again represented at the State finals, qualifying in doubles.
Our memories don't end with the accolades of athletic accomplishments. Many members of the band, choral, and drama groups were recognized at the local, state, and national level for their talents. Whether we were delightfully entertained by our well-disciplined band and our majorettes, or enchanted by the performance of our Dandy Lions Drill Team, Baker's spirit was always strong and represented a cohesive and loyal student body.
Let's reflect for a moment on some of our senior activities. What was more fun following a great football or basketball game than to attend the weekly Baker Sock Hop? Music was provided by the juke box or a live band -- an entire evening for twenty-five cents. Perhaps you stopped by Shoney's and ordered a Big Boy Combination Plate and famous strawberry pie, or visited King's Pizza or the Villa Nova, where we could feast on a large pizza, all the way, for $2.60. Maybe all you wanted was a chocolate sundae or a cherry Coke from the Country Maiden. All these fine eateries made our evenings complete. Do you remember?
Who was your date at the Sadie Hawkins Dance? Did you go to Panama City over spring break? (You may not remember that!) Who was your date to the Junior-Senior Prom? Did you attend the many wonderful musical and drama productions such as "Bye Bye Birdie," "Little Mary Sunshine," or "Take Her She's Mine?" Do you remember the beautiful voice of Vicki Morales who placed first at the state literary meet in the Girls' Solo competition. Vicki went on to star in the daytime soap, "The Young and the Restless" for over five years.
The 1966 BHS class set a powerful example for others to follow by excelling academically as well. Our graduating class earned $150,000 in scholarship money, the most ever earned by a school in the Muscogee County School District. Joe Lahnstein was recognized as a National Merit Finalist and our Star Student. He selected Miss Skinner as his Star Teacher. Several students were commended for academic achievements or won trophies in vocational or academic competitions such as the Voice of Democracy contest. Three Baker students received certificates for superb scores in the Time magazine current affairs test. Baker also left its pawprints in numerous competitions including debate, extemporaneous speaking, interpretive reading, oratory, and literary meets, as well as the Miss Citizenship competition for the Muscogee County School District. The BHS Rifle Team defeated Columbus High for a big win. Six Baker students had their essays published in "Young America."
The Baker Lions also possessed giving hearts. Many of our school organizations, such as the National Honor Society, wrote letters to soldiers stationed in Viet Nam. Other clubs launched special programs for Patriotism Week and led the fund raising campaign for the March of Dimes. Our Own JoAnne Hart, who chaired the 30th Reunion committee, was selected "First Lady" for the 21st YMCA Youth Assembly in Atlanta. Another great Baker moment. Do you remember?
In every area, Baker students made people notice that we were winners. Do you remember the slogan, "If you want to be a winner, come to Baker?" It was certainly true.
During the school year we eagerly looked forward to the monthly issues of our school newspaper, The Lion's Roar. Our memories live on as we wipe the dust from copies of our annual, The Arrowhead. For many of us, the annuals may be the only tangible reminders of our four glorious years.
As we reflect with nostalgia upon those special high school years we can be proud of our accomplishments as a class and as individuals. We all had our roles, whether in ROTC, the Lionbackers, the Tri-Hi-Y, the Chess Club, the service organizations, the National Honor Society, The Auguste Compte Society, FBLA, foreign language clubs, DCT, or Student Council.
The era of Baker High School, with its mountainous collection of trophies, plaques, and awards, is no more. In 1991 it was transformed into a middle school. However, the friendships, the learning, growth, experiences, and values have become a significant part of each of us. You do remember the way we were!
August 17, 1996