All high school senior classes like to think they’re leaving behind a legacy for future students to emulate. However, the accomplishments more often than not carry a meaning for that class only. The class of 1938 is a different case all together.
That class was a forerunner in several categories, including publishing Hillsville High School’s first yearbook and staging a successful protest. Alma Sutphin, 92, is one of the eight remaining members of that class, and the person responsible for naming that first yearbook.
“We had wanted to have a yearbook, and someone asked, ‘What should we name it?’, and I turned to Ottie Padgett, and said, ‘How about The Trail Mark?’” recalled Sutphin, who may have the only copy of that historic publication. “The Trail Mark cost $5; that was a lot during the depression.”
Vergie Horton was not only editor in chief of “The Trail Mark,” but wrote a school song, “Hail To Our School” and a poem “The Rainbow Trail,” that were published in the yearbook. Elsie Goad, Mary Ruth Redd, Lalah Horsley and Marjorie DeHaven were assistant editors, while Nancy Belle Kirby was the business manager, and Moir Martin, John Cruise, Ethel Marie Goad and Gradye Wade were assistant business editors. Curtis Cochran was the art editor, Clemens Phippps the assistant art editor, Sena Montgomery the humor editor and Ella Howlett the assistant humor editor. The yearbook contained photographs of the freshmen through senior classes and a listing of class officers, the principal and teachers, bus drivers and janitors, and all the student clubs. It also contained a class history, a senior diary, and a senior hall of fame (superlatives).
However, the yearbook may not have been the class of 1938’s biggest success. Thanks, in part, to the students’ actions, football and home economics were adopted by Hillsville High School that year.
“It was the spring of 1937 and May Day, and kids had a habit of running away from school. So we took off to the Shot Tower, spent the day there,” said Sutphin. “When we got back, we all sat down on the wall in front of the courthouse. Mr. P.W. Jones, our principal, came by and asked ‘What are you kids doing here?’ We told him we were striking for football and home economics. He told us to march back to the high school and meet him in the auditorium, or we’d be expelled.”
Sutphin said that she and her classmates met with Jones and “a few other people,” and “in the fall of 1938 we got football, but I don’t think we got home economics until the next year.”
The class of 1938 also buried a time capsule at what is the former Hillsville High School and now the Carroll County Intermediate School. However, the capsule was buried under a tree that eventually died and was cut down, said Sutphin. She added that some members of the class attempted to find the time capsule years later, but to no avail.
For many years, Sutphin and her classmates held reunions.
“We must have had 20-some reunions,” said Sutphin. “We’d meet at Doe Run Lodge, have dinner on Friday night and have the best time. Everybody would get up and tell how rich they were.”
Although Sutphin’s class has dwindled to a precious few, that fact hasn’t dimmed her memories.
“I was in a good class. We were nice and I think we had a lot of respect for our parents. We didn’t have much money – the bus drivers would sometimes give us money – but we had some good times,” she said.