Class of ’71 defined by friendships

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Class of 1971 recently hosted a 42nd year class reunion at the Natchez Manor on Nov. 29 and 30. The theme for this reunion was “Honoring our past, celebrating 60 years of God’s mercy and blessings and investing in our future.”

This class consists of a unique group of men and women.

What makes this class unique? We were the last class to receive class rings from our beloved Sadie Victoria Thompson High School during our junior year. In our senior year, we were separated by a boundary line because of integration and lost a portion of our classmates.

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We then became the first graduating classes of North and South Natchez Highs with class rings in the name of one school and diplomas from another. Even though we were separated by a mere invisible line, our hearts and minds were never disconnected.

We grew up together, sometimes breaking bread with each other in our parents’ homes, shared spiritual and life experiences. Oh yeah, there were friendships, how quaint. Life as we knew it during that particular time dealt us a hand, and there was nothing we could do but play it.

What schools we graduated from does not matter, in our very being we are “The Class of 1971.”

The purpose of this reunion was to come together one more time. This year will mark our 60th year of life, and we decided to celebrate the many years of God’s mercy and blessings.

The most important reason we decided to come together was to honor our parents, and what a better way to do this then by presenting scholarships to deserving students. Our parents made sacrifices that opened doors for us to seek and have a better life.

Those sacrifices made it possible for our dreams to become a reality. They taught us to honor and obey our Lord and Savior and to be productive citizens.

We honor our parents by presenting five, $500 scholarships to the top five students from Natchez High School. It is simply a way to invest in the future of our young people.

Let them see through us the gift of giving and hopefully create in them a spirit of generosity. May God continue to bless them and their families.

Let them remember that faith, family and hard work are the keys to success.


Chester Barnes Jr. is a member of the Class of 1971 and a resident of Country Club Hills, Illinois.