COCHRAN, GEORGIA: It was evident … at some point, all old buildings, unless preserved for historic purposes will come down – either with man’s help or because of the nature of the way things go.
So, it really has not come to any surprise that the longtime buildings that housed Bleckley County High School … aka Cochran High School … for many decades up until recently … will be coming down to make room for a growing population of students and the need for larger schools.
The ‘old high school’ is located on East Dykes Street – connected to the school system’s district offices. Since I have been away for many years, I didn’t have all of the logistics, but a reliable friend, and TMG board member, told me that “there will be a new primary school there to house pre-K through second grade, and once that is completed, the board of education will move to the current primary school building, and the gym, concession stands, old band room building will also be torn down, and the football stadium will have a major remodel.”
Change happens no matter what … look at all the changes our country, well, world has undergone in the last few months as a part of politics, inclement weather and now, a pandemic (coronavirus/COVID-19).
Instantly, my memory banks were flooded with a plethora of images of stuff that went on in those hallowed halls – senior English and Ivanhoe with Ms. Dee Dykes (Sewell), basketball games – keeping stats for the boys my senior year, FBLA meetings, passing Mr. Turknett in the hall, and getting “that” look of ‘What do you want now, Holland?,’ Brad, Edward, Paul, Rich and their classmates hollering at me my freshman, sophomore and junior years, “Becky Who Boo,” and the day I fainted in Coach Lucas’ biology class when we dissected the frog – yeah, I am that girl. I graduated in 1988.
The list goes on and on.
And I am not the only one who was caught up with memories.
My classmate, William ‘ Hal’ Howard, said, “ I remember classes in the older, original part of the building that were at the end of the halls. This where the steam pipes in the floor would turn. In the middle of winter, teachers like Mrs. French would have to open the windows to cool the room down. But I did like the metal desks heating up from the floor.”
Windy Darsey, Class of 1984, and Tammy Cranford-Bauer fondly recalled days spent in home economics with Joan Harmon. Windy said, “I had a 2 hour block with her and it was a blast … actually had her two years in a row! That huge bathroom was where we would congregate. Those were the days!”
Denise Goodman Shepherd, Class of 1976, said, “Loved Mr Moore when he was our band director. Also Mrs Griner’s biology class and Mrs Harmon’s home economics class. The senior lunches they served were awesome.”
“Mrs. Alderman’s English class, she was so animated and eccentric. I remember when she walked, she made sure her feet stayed on the tiles, “step on a crack, break your momma’s back,” Moni (Mayo) Jones remembered. Ramona (Smith) Giles, Class of 1974, said “Mrs. Alderman did this with our class too.”
Lynne Raley, class of 1982, stated,”O.H.E lunches once a week…those angel biscuits were to die for … and then music classes with Mrs. Ouida Smith (Williams at that time)!” Tara Sanders, class of 1987, agreed that the O.H.E. lunches were the best.
Tara added another memory. “The senior physics’ class building an indestructible egg that would not crack after being dropped from the senior balcony in the lunchroom.”
Wendy Lanfair Cates, class of 1984, said, “There were some great memories of being a student aide for Marthellis Lunsford with Amy Lunsford Hulett in the library … she always had us snacks!”
Melanie Jones Collins, class of 1983, said, “I loved high school, so many great memories. I was junior class president, so much of that year was spent planning for the prom. Flora and Ron Bryant were our class sponsors, and I have funny memories of us making a trip to the Macon Coliseum to listen to bands.”
Melanie laughed, “ I also remember many early Saturday morning drives to Macon to fill my car up with Krispy Kreme donuts to sell downtown. Friday nights were spent as a water girl for the Royals.I have so many memories of teachers and classes, but one that came to mind was Spanish class with Mrs. Anna McCammon and her famous ‘red lips.’”
She continued, “In 1987, I became a member of the faculty, and loved the 10 years that I taught there … I was varsity and junior varsity cheerleading sponsor, and senior class sponsor … so many great memories from that place.”
Donna Dupree Rambo, class of 1979, said, “I loved Mrs Harmon’s class. I was also an aide in her class during the OHE class. It was so much fun. Mrs Harmon and Mrs McDonald were the FFA sponsors. We enjoyed FFA.” Cindy Ward McCranie, class of 1984, said, “Mrs Harmon classroom… so many good memories.”
Leanna Noah was a student, and later served as a teacher and administrator. She was in the class of 1969. “It was Cochran High School. Practicing basketball in fourth period was always work but fun, with Coach Ben Dykes. I loved all my classes! Girls learned early on not to put your purse on the floor in the winter— the heat in the floor would melt your lipstick!!”
She continued, “ However, it did feel good to take your shoes off and warm your feet. It was a great feeling when I came back to teach math at the school! Also, coaching was a lot of fun … from middle school basketball to high school track, softball, cheerleading and one-act play … When I was coaching cheerleading, it was awesome on pep-rally days, to walk down each hall with the cheerleaders and the back! Students would join in as we passed by their rooms and we would all walk and cheer all the way to the gym for the pep-rally… too many stories to list when I was assistant principal.”
Joe Alligood remembered having “A.O. Turner as band director …he did so much for his students in preparing them for the future … Mr. Harmon in history class and government which you had to have to graduate ..they don’t teach now.”
Cheryl (Holland) Little, class of 1978, reflected on her years at the school. She wrote, “…we had six periods and two of mine were music! Chorus was my favorite with Ouida W.Smith and, band with Moore and Foster. Chorus was more fun than work … even when I had gum one time too many and Ms. Williams sent me to the office where Ben Dykes paddled me.”
She said, “It hurt my pride more than my behind …our band filled the entire building, and all the standing room. We learned a new show each week, practiced music inside during class, then went to the actual official field after school or that evening to learn the formations. Looking back, I realize how much talent we have to have had in our little town to be able to do all that,,. Memories,,,”
A building is just a building to some … but to those who are alumni of Bleckley County High School/Cochran High School … that building was more than just bricks and mortar and cement … It was an important chapter or two or four in our lives.
Share your memories of Bleckley County HIgh School – the old high school – in the comments below or go to the link for this story on our Facebook page @themurphygazette. — submitted by Rebecca.
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Photos from Leanna Noah and other alumni.