An era ends, another begins: School move date set

A group of Crossett High School alumni — each one representing a member of each graduating class since 1960, when the first class to use the old CHS building graduated — link arms in the halls and sing the alma mater. The school’s current students will begin classes on the new CHS campus Dec. 3.

Next week will be the last tome that Crossett High School students attend classes in the nearly 60 year old CHS building set for demolition soon.

CHS students and teachers will officially have classes in the new facilities on their new campus Dec. 3. Construction on the project began in 2017.

Crossett Schools Assistant Superintendent Barbara Garner said that there is no exact date yet for the demolition of the old high school, but she expects it to start very soon after the students move into the new building.

As they prepared to say goodbye to the building that has been the educational home for 58 senior classes, alumni and other groups who have an interest in preserving the building’s history gathered for a unique photo opportunity Monday.

Barry Burchfield, a member of the class of 1980, said that he is proud of the new facilities, but he hates to see a place where so many memories have been made be torn down.

Burchfield worked with people in the community to put together a “last class” photo to add to a collection of Crossett memorabilia that he has been working to collect for both the school and the athletics program. Burchfield has been working on a collection of CHS yearbook’s and uploading other material online to preserve as much of Crossett’s history as possible.

Once his collection is complete, Burchfield plans to donate them or store them in a place where they can be viewed publicly by all of those interested in the history and past students of CHS.

As part of that project, Burchfield arranged for 57 other CHS graduates — one from each graduating class since 1960 — to meet at the school. Burchfield said the first class to graduate in the CHS building that stands now was the class of 1960.

“I was thinking of all the things we could do before the building is torn down, and I just thought this would be a great idea,” Burchfield said.

With the help of Whitney Gill, Shelly Carter, Shanae Govan and others, Burchfield rounded up one person from each of the 58 classes to graduate from CHS. Homecoming queen Toynisha Hampton was also present to represent the class of 2019, as her class will be the first class to not only use the new campus, but to graduate in the new arena.

Last year, Burchfield and his 1980 classmates hosted a high school reunion in the old building so that they could eat chili in the cafeteria one more time. The “reunioners” walked through the lunch line and were given paper trays just as if they were having a school lunch in 1980.

“We thought it would be a neat way to say our goodbyes,” Burchfield said.

Anyone interested reminiscing before the building is demolished may do so at an upcoming open house. Several members of the community said that they wanted to tour the old school one last time or show their children the halls they walked as CHS students.

“I want to take my kids through the building one time before it’s torn down,” Tasha Dorcy, a member of the class of 2001, said.

Garner said that in light of the community interest, Superintendent Gary Williams is working to plan an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 8 for those who wish to walk through and say goodbye to the old building and for those who wish to tour the new facilities.

“He (Williams) is planning a walk-through for the day of Christmas in Crossett, Dec. 8, and everyone is invited to walk through,” Garner said.

Garner said the preparation for the demolition is expected to begin sometime after Dec. 8.

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