Macon’s old Mark Smith, Lasseter high schools hit 50th anniversary

For hundreds of students who attended Mark Smith and Lasseter high schools, they were the first and the last.

When the new buildings opened in 1965, no one could foresee their short history.

“The interesting thing about us is that nothing came before us,” said Miki Fluker, who is organizing a 50th anniversary reunion this weekend for all attendees. “Everything was new. The alma maters had to be written.

“It was just an awesome situation, and at that time we had no idea it was going to end.”

In 1970, court-ordered desegregation created Northeast High School by merging black students from Peter G. Appling High School into the old Mark Smith building for boys that was later connected to the girls’ old Lasseter building.

But leading into the 1965 school year, rising ninth-grader Rhonda Koplin remembers hearing about the new school and being disappointed that she would not be attending Miller High on Montpelier Avenue.

More than half of her car pool opted instead for Stratford Academy.

Lasseter did not disappoint, she said.

“It was magical. It was a whole other world. New friends and everybody was scared with the new school,” Koplin recalled.

As a freshman B-team cheerleader with no older girls to learn from, there were challenges. Parents had to correct the girls who were cheering to “hold the line,” when the Mark Smith Bulldogs had the ball.

The fledgling school would have plenty to cheer about, though, including the 1969 GHSA Class AAA boys basketball state championship.

As classmates from all years reunite for the fourth time since 2004, about 200 to 250 people are reliving old times Friday and Saturday night at the Al Sihah Shrine Temple at 222 Mecca Drive.

“We’ve got somebody coming from Washington state,” Fluker said.

Mark Smith and Lasseter musicians reserved the stage for the oldies Friday night while The Grapevine is scheduled to play Saturday night.

Fluker has produced an audio visual presentation of old photographs, but the best part of the get-together for her is to “feel young again for two nights,” she said.

“We always have bands with good ‘60s music. It’s just fun to see everybody.”

Koplin looks back on the spirit of cooperation from parents who pitched in to landscape the school and build the football field house.

While in a recent Leadership Macon board meeting, she couldn’t believe her gleaming new school is now the oldest of Bibb County’s public high schools.

“It’s just amazing. You blink and it’s 50 years.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 and follow her on Twitter@liz_lines.