Farewell, South High.
Goodbye from a teary-eyed Marcee MacKay Pentelute, Class of '76: "South was a big part of my life. I had a lot of good times and good friends."So long from Camilla Flowers Hadley, Class of '38: "South was a beautiful school, a clean, neat school. It was just tops in spirit. Why does it have to come to this? It's a shame to have to lose this school. Why didn't they close East or West? They're older. It just blows my mind (that South is closing), but then they didn't invite me to sit on the school board."
Adios from Miles Lawrence, Class of '50: "I really enjoyed South. I went on to the U. of U., but I had more fun at South. There were close friends and good relationships here. It was an enjoyable time of life when you're young and carefree. South was the high point in my school career."
By the dozens and dozens they came to the 57-year-old high school on South State Street Friday night. Often dressed in South blue and white, scores of South High's 31,000 alumni came to say goodbye but also to remember.
They talked of the high-stepping Southern Bells; the front-page greetings from Miss Dyer in the Scribe; the sweet taste of athletic victory, especially over archrival West; the elegant finery paraded at the Plantation Balls; and those yearly get-acquainted events called Hello Day.
They eagerly leafed through old copies of the Southerner and yellowing scrapbooks for glimpses of their past and scanned the crowds for once-familiar faces now changed by the years.
And they laughed and hugged and cried and sang "On South High" for one last time.
"There is a lot of excitement here tonight," said principal LaVar Sorensen. "We can't be sad. This isn't a funeral. We're going out with a bang - and a lot of enthusiasm."
Since the Salt Lake Board of Education announced South would close this year because of dwindling enrollment, those connected with South wanted a way to send the grand old lady off in style. So they decided that the school's last party would be its biggest. They billed it a "grand celebration for a grand school" and invited those to whom South means the most - its 31,000 alumni.
Zan Vincent, Class of '54, brought along her husband, Robert, and his eight brothers and sisters. All are South graduates.
"My husband and I met here. We got married my senior year in high school. This place has fond memories," Vincent said.
Dorothy Holmes Duckworth, Class of '43, was back at South for the first time since she graduated. "It was an emotional time. I graduated during World War II.
The emotions were there because a lot of friends were going to war, some had already left, and you knew some were going to get killed."
Wearing matching blue South High sweatshirts, Russell Bowcutt, Class of '46, and Gertrude Bowcutt, Class of '48, said South's closing was extra hard for them. They were childhood sweethearts who attended Jefferson Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High School and South High School together. Jefferson and Lincoln are now gone; South steps into the past on June 8.
"It's sad when all of your schools are gone. It makes you feel like you've lost something," Mrs. Bowcutt said.
Beth White Pettit, Class of '36, would agree. It's been more than 50 years since she cheered on the Cubs at the football games and participated in dance club. But there was still something, maybe South High pride, that drew her back for a farewell look. "I just wanted to see it before it closed."
Goodbye, South High.