CHS Class of 1968 meets for 50th reunion of memories, bonds and history
Classmates of Cleveland High School’s graduating class of 1968 came together on April 14 at the Cleveland Civic Center to celebrate 50 years of memories, experiences and unending friendships.
The reunion was planned by Barbara Franklin and the 1968 Cleveland High School Class President Donald Bounds.
Though some of the classmates have passed away over the course of five decades, many are still alive and were present for the reunion.
“We had 120 [graduating students],” said Franklin. “We have 35 that we know that have passed away.”
The 35 classmates were honored with their pictures on a table at the reunion.
The 50 years since graduation have seen a lot of changes at Cleveland High School.
“The schools have changed as far as the looks of them,” said Franklin.
Franklin was an accountant prior to her retirement and is a resident in San Jacinto County. This reunion gives her the chance to bond with old classmates who have moved on to places outside of Cleveland’s borders much like herself.
“It’s just really good to see all of them,” she said. “Some of them I haven’t seen in 50 years.”
Bounds reinforced the fact that seeing each other again brings back memories of time at the high school when the classmates, many of whom attended all of their years in school together, went their separate ways after graduation.
“You walk across the stage and then you separate,” he said.
Bounds attended the University of Texas right after graduation. He came back to Cleveland and opened Bounds Pharmacy, which was open for 30 years. He now lives in Austin where his pharmacy is currently located.
Cleveland has also changed much to Bounds, who notes that it was a peaceful town. Bounds says the school has changed over the years, too.
“I think we really enjoyed the school environment,” he said. “The kids have changed. Now the teams have changed. The technology has changed.”
One of Cleveland High School’s biggest events in 1968 was its integration of black students.
“We readily accepted the guys here,” he said. “We’re still good friends.”
Percy Whitmire recalls his time not only as a student but also as one of Cleveland High School’s football coaches. He coached from 1972 to 1985 before moving to Yokum. He continued to coach football at other schools until he moved to Brock and coached at its school.
“On our first year in UIL in football they went to state championship,” he said.
Even football has changed over the years, according to Whitmire.
“It’s a passing game,” he said. “All they do now is pass.”
Kathy Jones discussed Cleveland High School’s integration in the mid to late 1960s.
“Initially, when I first went in 1966 we had been asked to go so that we could help break the ice,” she said.
Jones and two other black students began to attend Cleveland High School in 1966.
“It was a pragmatic experience,” she said. “We knew no one over there and we had come from a place where we were very comfortable.”
According to Jones, some of the staff at that time such as teacher Sally Daniels helped the girls in the experience.
“She was very good to us also,” said Jones. “When we were mistreated, she was there to pat us on the shoulders.”
Jones says the experience wasn’t as bad as she and her fellow black classmates initially thought it would be. The turmoil, she said, began when the school integrated completely.
While integration had its ups and downs for Jones and her classmates, she says she is more than happy to attend the 50th reunion because of Franklin.
“She’s been inclusive with everything,” said Jones. “She has been one of the nicest persons to work with in any reunion.”
Jones says the class of 1968 has grown over the years and has learned one thing since integration.
“We learn to accept the other person’s differences,” she said.