Farewell to Bath High School – November 5, 1988

With the beginning of the 1988-1989 school year, Bath High School’s students, faculty, and community found themselves experiencing a deep sense of sadness and a dreaded end to the “family- school” that had educated, nurtured and supported several generations of students.  The Beaufort County Board of Education felt that a consolidated school would better serve the needs of the community; therefore, at the end of the 1989 school year, Bath students joined with those from Belhaven and Pantego in a school at Yeatesville called Northside High School.   All parties involved wanted to make this final school year the best and most memorable possible for everyone – current staff and students, as well as the thousands who had come before. 

Durwood Boyd, a 1971 graduate, suggested having a large reunion, and June Wallace and Claudia Alligood had the brainstorm of expanding the annual homecoming and making it a homecoming for the ages, including all former alumni.  This pair had no trouble finding many willing hands to help with the planning, contacting alumni, designing Pirate wear, and building energy and excitement for the event. 

The homecoming date for that year was set for November 4, a Friday night, but it was decided that the annual homecoming football game should be a central focus for the event, so the football coach, Walt Davis, conferred with Chocowinity’s coach and had the game changed to Saturday, November 5, 1988, which became the date for the big gathering. Mayor Jim Richardson wrote a proclamation that November 5, 1988, was declared “Bath Pirate Day,” to coincide with Bath High School’s homecoming to celebrate the Class of 1989, the high school’s last graduating class.

The library of the elementary school became a humongous gallery filled with displays of Bath High School memorabilia from as far back as could be found. Annuals (Yearbooks), letter jackets and other items of Pirate clothing, trophies, scrapbooks (Future Homemakers of America, Future Farmers of America, Future Teachers of America), awards (Beta Club, Debate Team), and hundreds and hundreds of newspaper articles that chronicled the many outstanding moments in the lives of the Pirates were on display.  Interestingly, there were many tender moments when two or three generations from the same family were perusing the materials and finding their own names or pictures, preserving moments about which they had bragged to their families.

The hallway of the elementary school was filled with tables of spirit shirts dedicated to Bath High School and to the many Pirates “returning to port” for this sad, but grand, occasion.  Everyone wanted to wear that Pirate shirt forever to keep the spirit that it represented alive.

All over the school grounds, classes had claimed spaces to visit and dine together.  There were colorful signs marking the territory of each class.  Some classes had grills burning with flavors of various entrees filling the air.  Some classes had packed picnic baskets and spread their goodies on blankets on the ground.  Food was the least of anyone’s worries, as this became a time for people to meet and greet old friends, not only from their own graduating class, but from friends who were in high school at the same time.  Some were seeing old friends for the first time since departing the school.  It was a joyous time for all.

Just prior to game-time, there was a special recognition for the “state champions” who had represented BHS.  During the power-house years of 1958-1960, Bath had won three consecutive State Football Championships, under the guidance of Coach Jack Wallace.  In 1963 the high school’s baseball team won the Baseball State Championship, again under the leadership of Coach Jack Wallace.  Then, in 1987, Walt Davis led his girls to the Softball State Championship.  All the players who were present at the reunion were invited onto the football field, announced and cheered once more by their loyal Pirate fans. 

Of course, the Pirate football team won its game that night, to cap off their season as Conference Champions!  Following the game, there was a homecoming dance enjoyed by many. The band, The Loving Kind, a local band from days gone by, provided the music for the dance, another nostalgic touch for the homecoming events.

On that day in 1988, graduates from nearly all of the 64 classes, who had sojourned through the halls and lives of Bath High School, gathered to remember all that the school and its people had meant in their lives.  An estimated crowd of more than 3,000 people, including one member of the very first graduating class in 1925, Mrs. Louise Tankard, took part in the festivities.  They reconnected with the school and their friends, they reminisced about days and adventures together, they relived moments from their past through the mega memorabilia display, they ate good food with friends, they cheered the Pirates ones more, they danced a farewell homecoming dance, they laughed.  And, they cried- because of what was not to be for future generations; but they considered their own educational experiences worth remembering forever, and that made them happy.                                                            

From Claudia Alligood’s Memoirs

From 1921 until 1989, BHS had 14 principals. During the 64 years it was open, there were 3,291 graduates from BHS. Many students were part of the Future Teachers of America and returned to teach, coach and guide the next generation of students.

1925-1989 A Look Back was a souvenir book and labor of love. On the back pages, many people were acknowledged for generous use of pictures, keepsakes and stories. Many items came from the original students who were eager to share a bit of their own experience. Other items came from family members of Bath alumni who knew how much the school experience meant to their family and wanted to share on behalf of those who were no longer with us. Claudia Wingate Alligood published this book in 1989. She said she hoped we might find something of benefit in these pages- something of interest, nostalgia, history, pleasant memories or a fun tidbit. She found the story of a little school that shared a great big heart with everyone who came its way. This is a common theme that you will find throughout this book of recollections and recipes. A limited reprint of this book will be available for purchase at the Centennial Celebration. Contact Claudia Alligood if you wish to purchase a copy.

Over 300 pages covering 64 graduating classes, the BHS “A Look Back” book is filled with photos and details for each class- graduates, officers, poem, mottos, mascots, sports teams, group trips, proms and much more. It is a veritable treasure trove of memories for generations.

BHS School Song

“Hail, to our Dear Bath High School,

Honor and glory, we’ll show to you.

Marching on toward higher goals,

We’re striving to reach some future role.

We never falter, We’re not afraid.

Even though sometimes we are dismayed.

We are working, striving, seeking,

Ever to honor you. Rah! Rah!”