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St. Stephen Class of 1972 reunites in Savannah, Georgia

Still connected after half a century, the alumni of one of South Carolina’s first Black public high schools will get a chance to “relive the good old days” later this fall.

The St. Stephen High School Class of 1972 will celebrate their 50th Reunion on Friday, September 30 – Sunday, October 2, 2022 at the Hilton Garden Inn Midtown in Savannah, GA.

The classmates will enjoy three days of fellowship, music, great food, sightseeing, and shopping.

A reunion banquet will take place and feature a keynote speech from Rev. Dr. Julius Barnes – Dean/Professor at Cummins Memorial Theological Seminary and a former St. Stephen High School chemistry teacher. The banquet will also honor deceased classmates during a special memorial presentation. All Class of 1972 St. Stephen alums – and their family and friends – are invited to attend and can register by emailing classof1972sth@gmail.com.

“Our reunion will celebrate so many aspects of our lives,” says Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Butler (c/o ‘72), an organizer of the class reunion. “But primarily, it is a celebration of resilience. We survived unbridled segregation, racism, and the economic injustices of Jim Crow. We graduated from high school and went on to live productive lives.”

St. Stephen High School began in 1924 as St. Stephen Colored School, a three-room frame building and the first public African American school in St. Stephen, S.C. It opened with grades 1-7, but burned in 1935. A brick elementary and high school with grades 1-10 replaced it. Grades 11 and 12 were added in 1936-1937 and 1948-1949. A nine-room brick high school was constructed in 1944-45. The school closed in 1954, and its students transferred to the new Russellville High School, which desegregated in 1971.

“In 1971, while we were juniors in high school, schools in Berkeley County, S.C. became integrated,” remembers Professor Hydrum Middleton Weaver (c/o ‘72). “Racial uprisings were still going on, but our parents protected us from a lot of what was happening around us. That same prejudice still exists today, but our children did not have to experience much of the discrimination that our parents, some of us, and family members endured.”

Perhaps what the St. Stephen graduates are looking forward to the most is the chance to reconnect, share old memories, and cherish the moment. Time has only made the bond among this class stronger.

“The reason why I have stayed connected to the Class of ‘72 for 50 years is because they’re my roots,” says Levi Jerome Wilson (c/o ‘72). “My classmates from elementary to high school made me who I am today. Growing up at home, it was just my grandmother and my sister. My classmates gave me a different perspective on life. They motivated me and made me realize that there was life after high school."

Shirley Madison (c/o '72) added: “Our classmates are all genuinely good folks with great home training and values. We basically grew up having love in our hearts and respect for each other’s families. Those of us who ventured away and had more experiences and exposure to other worlds did not lose the basic philosophy about how to treat, engage and meet people where they are.”

A summary of the 50th Reunion activities is as follows (subject to change):

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2022

3pm…………………Hotel Check-in Begins

4:30–6:30pm…….…Registration

7:00- 9pm ……….…Meet & Greet Mixer (Buffet & Cash Bar Available)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER, 1ST, 2022

8am - 10am ………..Breakfast On Your Own

10am -4pm….….…..Tours Of Savannah

4pm - 6pm……..…...Preparation For Banquet

6pm - 7pm……….....Cocktail Hour & Photo Shoot

7pm -11pm………....50th Class Reunion Banquet

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2nd, 2022

9am – 10:30………...Breakfast On Your Own

10:30am-12:00pm.....Elections

1pm - 2:30pm……….Brunch & Riverboat Tour (boarding starts at 12 noon)

2:30pm – Until..….....On Your Own To Enjoy And Explore Savannah

For more information, email classof1972sth@gmail.com