DEARING, Ga. -- The recent Dearing School Reunion was like a special homecoming for many attending the festivities.
One of those was Dr. Ian Rivera, an Army physician stationed at Fort Stewart near Hinesville, Ga. and who grew up and attended the school when he was in third grade.
"This is awesome," said Dr. Rivera, who had been planning to return for the reunion the past 10 years. "I grew up here in Dearing. My Mom and Dad still live here. This is home."
His parents are Nelson and Mary Rivera.
Dr. Rivera, who performed the Star Spangled Banner on his trumpet during the raising of the American flag before the festivities began, said Dearing is special because the people who live there are special.
"The people are what make Dearing such a special place to live and raise a family," added Dr. Rivera. "I've lived in a lot of places, but I still consider Dearing my home. It's always good to come back home. This is something I've been looking forward to doing for 10 years."
Dr. Rivera called Dearing a town of some of the most friendliness people he's ever encountered.
"This is a values-based community and I love it," added Dr. Rivera. "That's hard to replace."
An estimated 150 people attended the Dearing School Reunion, which included a gathering in the school's old gym that underwent a massive renovation two years ago.
"This is something we've been doing for many years," said Joyce Hobbs Garner, a lifelong resident of Dearing and a 1957 graduate of the old historic school.
Mrs. Garner along with several other people helped organize this year's Dearing School Reunion. Others involved on this year's organizational committee included: Billy and Gladys Rodgers, Billy and Mary Wells, Dot Harrison, Bill Howard, Evelyn Richardson, Marjorie Cole, Thomas Black, Agnes Landrum, Avis McGahee, Catherine Seaman, Jack McCorkle, Ira Reeves, Lois McGahee, Alicia Fitzgerald, Clarence Newby and Gerry Fitzgerald.
"It's a labor of love," said Mrs.Garner. "I love helping to organize all of this every year. It's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun to see everybody return and enjoy themselves so much."
Mrs. Garner - one of 17 members of the Class of '57 that graduated from the old Dearing School - said she and classmates and others have gotten together every 10 years since graduation.
After socializing with each other and eating a covered dish dinner, everyone who attended was invited to the school's auditorium where Little Roy Lewis, former star of the Lewis Family of Lincolnton, along with Lizzy Long entertained them with a variety of music.
In 1992, the group decided to extend the reunion to others who had gone to school there.
By 1997, the reunion included former students who had attended school there from 1934 through 1959.
"It's something that has just grown bigger and bigger through the years," said Mrs. Garner.
Another former student of the school who enjoyed himself was Kenneth Huff.
"When I walked up to the school today, my memories of school days went all the back to when I was in the first grade," said Mr. Huff, now 65. "I remember I got a spanking on the first day."
Mr. Huff said he spotted a wasp nest and decided he would throw some rocks at it.
There was only one slight problem. His teacher was nearby when he threw the gravel and a piece of it hit her.
"Wayne McCorkle told on me and he got a spanking, too, because he was with me," recalled Mr. Huff.
Another memory of the old school involved him being told that because he was so good in baseball in the eighth grade that he stood a chance of making the team in the ninth grade.
As it turned out, he never made the team because students were bused to Thomson High School the next year.