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Saturday night was probably the fastest four hours of my life. Class members of the South Panola High School Class of 1993 gathered for our 30th reunion. After only one small reunion at the 10-year mark, the gathering was the first time many of us had seen one another since graduation night. Sure, friends stayed connected through the years, but with a class of almost 200 graduates many of us had lost touch with one another.
The evening included “Do You Remember?” These memories included the usual top songs and movies from our graduating year. The memories also included the football winning streak that started in 1993 as the Tigers, fondly known as the University of South Panola, would ultimately record 89 consecutive wins and five state titles before falling to Meridian, 26 – 20, in overtime for the Class 5A state title in 2008. It was the longest winning streak in the nation at that time, and few streaks have been longer – before or after the Tigers’ success.
There was also a table with pictures of 17 classmates who are no longer with us. Their early departures started in high school and continued during the last three decades. Classmates have been killed in vehicle wrecks and others were claimed by cancer. A class member, Corporal Daron Lunsford, was killed in Iraq his military vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device on May 23, 2005. Daron was a childhood friend from our elementary school days.
Another classmate and friend was killed at her eye clinic inside the Starkville Walmart, shot by her estranged boyfriend in 2008.
As the night continued, I wondered if other classes have been hit so hard with the loss of classmates. But thankfully the reunion was also about rekindling old friendships and reminiscing about the fun times. I had been so busy in the weeks leading up to the big night that I really had not slowed down to reflect on our school years or my graduation night.
It started sinking in Thursday night at Bobby Clark Field as I was covering the big night for the 69 seniors from Water Valley High School’s Class of 2023 who received their diplomas. It made me stop and think about our graduation night 30 years ago. Admittedly the details are a little fuzzy. As I listened to Chloe Clement embrace what the future would hold for her classmates, I couldn’t even remember who the valedictorian from my class was.
But there is good reason for a little memory loss after one of my classmates helped put it in perspective. He noted that when the class members who graduate this year celebrate their 30th reunion, it will be in the year of 2053.
That really made it hit home, meaning just how long it had been since we graduated as 2053 seems so distant. But for the classes who graduated in 1993, the 30-year mark in 2023 is the same time span as 2053 will be for the classes who graduated in 2023.
Dang if that didn’t make me feel old. Well, that and the gray hairs that keep popping up on my noggin.