SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — The school is bigger now than they remember it, and for them perhaps a little harder to walk around than before, but for many members of the Spartanburg High School Class of 1960 it still feels like home.

Some 60 years after it first opened on Dupre Drive in the fall of 1959, members of the school's first graduating class strolled through its halls one last time this week before a new Spartanburg High School opens on the site of the former Lan-Yair Golf Club on East Main Street.

After some renovation work, the current Spartanburg High School will become the new McCracken Middle School.

For many, July 17's tour was a chance to reconnect with old friends and old haunts.

Arthur Patterson can still point out details, like the central courtyard's arrangement and the over door placards he had a hand in hanging.

"I remember it was always hot because this place wasn't air conditioned and the sun came streaming in right through the windows all day," Patterson said. "It definitely feels better in here now than it did then."

In the summer of 1959, before the school opened, Patterson had been among a group of students hired to help put the finishing touches on the property. He said he couldn't conceive of a day when it would cease to be a high school.

"These labels over the doors, you had to make sure they were perfect the first time because we used these one-way screws," Patterson said. "And there was no backing those out."

Wanda Clark Hyatt said she grew to love Spartanburg High School but said she still remembers her early fears that came with moving from the much smaller Frank Evans High School that houses what is now Spartanburg Community College's downtown campus.

"I was scared to death because this place was so huge," Hyatt said. "I honestly wondered how I was ever supposed to learn my way around."

A member of the school's band, Hyatt said her high school years were consumed by music.

"We played our hearts out and had a time of it," Hyatt, whose children also went on to graduate from Spartanburg High School, she said.

Mitch Byers was a three-year drum major in the school's band, the last year of which was spent at Spartanburg High School.

After graduating from high school, he moved on to Furman University and ended up in the U.S. Army as tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union ran high during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He later became an employee of Furman University and pastored local churches.

He can still remember the school's intricate marching band performance routines nearly six decades later.

July 17, though, was the first time he's been back to the high school since the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration.

"It's still going to be here, but it's not going to be a high school anymore," Byers said. "So I thought it was important to get in here and see it one last time."

Sterling Anderson and Jane Bishop Anderson met at Spartanburg High School and later married. Their children graduated from the same school decades later.

Their class of 1960 — recollections were fuzzy from the group on the exact number of graduates but most said it was more than 300 students — was the largest the district had produced to that date.

Both Sterling and Jane called the group tight-knit and respectful.

"I'd say we loved each other, but I was also ready for graduation," Sterling Anderson laughed.

The one item the entire group said they still own? A Bible embossed with their name that was given to them at graduation.

"You better believe we've all still held on to that," Hyatt said.

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Information from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/

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