The Harris Award was named in honor of Professor Henry Howell Harris, who served as principal of Whitesburg High School from 1919 until 1927. It was awarded by the faculty to a senior boy on the basis of leadership, character, and scholastic standing.
One Man’s Opinion by Don Woodford Webb on the classes of the 1950s
Our classmates were born during the 1930s, a time when the great depression had not yet left eastern Kentucky. But, we survived, thank you. Many of our families and friends fought in World War II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam to keep this country free and strong. We all remember those sacrifices with thanks and will never forget the price paid by so many of our family, friends, and neighbors.
Our 1950s high school decade was a period when some families owned an automobile and some didn’t. Very few of our fellow students had their own car, but those without one always managed to get around some way.
Television? Not in those early years. But, we didn’t need it. We had imaginations bigger than any television could ever project. While our libraries may not have contained a large number of books, the use of those few that were available taught us to read, write and spell. The experiences of spelling and arithmetic matches in grade school created skills that modern machines cannot duplicate.
There are those who think that times were bad and our country was poor in the ‘50s. Maybe times were bad. And, maybe we were poor in some ways. But, not in pride and heart and love and determination and support from teachers and families that made all of us want to succeed as students and beyond.
Sure, we had limited resources in the equipment and facilities. But, we were not lacking in the most important educational resource. This resource was teachers who gave their every effort to enabling their pupils to learn, both academically and socially.
What was the result? Success! A disproportionate number of the students attending Whitesburg High School during the ‘50s have accomplished much in their lives compared to other schools and communities.
Maybe things have not always gone exactly as we had planned. Maybe the success cannot be measured in our material accumulations or wealth.
The very fact that many of us are still here and able to attend this reunion and visit with our friends is a sure sign that we have succeeded in living a longer life than some of our classmates and friends. And, that God has looked favorably on us by allowing us to be here.
The “Fabulous Fifties” classes of Whitesburg High School graduated more than its share of teachers, business people, doctors, lawyers, nurses, factory workers, coal miners, soldiers, politicians, truck drivers, technicians and others. More importantly, it produced husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children, brothers and sisters and friends who were a part of our “greatest generation”.
There are some of us who would not exchange the experiences of life in Letcher County and Whitesburg High School in the ‘50s for training at the finest and best known prep school in the nation or some school which was located in what might have been located in the best town or state in the U.S.A. Some of us sometimes regret that our child or children did not have the experience of living and going to school with the people and to the teachers that we did in Letcher County and Whitesburg High School.
Now Whitesburg High School is for the ages. But its memories are deeply etched in the hearts and minds of many generations, all thinking that their days at old WHS were the best!
Thanks for the memories. And, good-by, “Old Whitesburg” High School!
(The above article from “The Last Black Kat” distributed at the All-Class Reunion held at the Campbell House in Lexington, July 30, 2005.)