GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - It's been 20 years since the first class graduated from Gautier High School. And although the rest of the classes are commemorated in the school's lobby, that inaugural class never had its composite made - until now.
As the drape was pulled away from a large easel in Gautier High School's lobby, cheers erupted. It was an emotional gathering for former students and educators as a brand new class composite picture was fully revealed.
Memories came flooding back for these members of the first graduating class of Gautier High School.
"Twenty years and we're taking our rightful place. I'm so proud," said class member Bathsheba Cole.
"It's 20 years ago, and it's my classmates, and it's awesome," said Christy Ponder through tears.
Class of 1997 graduate and Gautier City Councilman Casey Vaughan led the way in getting this class composite put together, which he said turned out to be a bit of a challenge.
"The school district didn't have any proofs because our senior photographer was out of business, the annual company was out of business," said Vaughan.
Area photographer Ronnie Blankeney was able to use old yearbook photos to complete the framed piece that instantly brings back memories for students and teachers alike. "I can stand here and remember each one of them. It's so special," said former teacher Dorothy Hanna.
Hanna taught math and remembers the big day when the school opened its doors.
"When this building opened, we were just on cloud nine. It was a beautiful building, it was in the right location, we had students and we had teachers that really cared about it," said Hanna.
Now the current students will have one more class to look to as the legacy of the school's very first class is put on display.