August 2, 2013
Five decades ago, Lane High School was in the middle of Massive Resistance.
Friday night, the students who lived through it were back together again.
The Class of 1963 of Lane and Rock Hill High Schools met together at their old school -- now the Albemarle County Office Building.
Lane was Charlottesville's public high school. Rock Hill was a private school created to avoid integration.
The classmates watched a PBS documentary about the split of their class due to Senator Harry Bird's decision to close Lane.
"We were not racist. We were not violent. We just were ignorant. We didn't know better and we didn't realize that we were the start of history in the Virginia area," said Pat Jensen, a graduate of Rock Hill's class of 1963.
"We did what Mom and Daddy told us to do," added Helen Hatzenbeler, Lane Class of '63 Graduate and chair of the reunion. "Most of us grew up in 'Leave it to Beaver' homes."
Students scattered to different places when their school closed. In addition to private schools, some students attended schools in counties relatives lived in or other situations. Before going to Rock Hill, Jensen attended classes held in churches for a period.
"We all went to grade school together and we were expecting to go to high school. And when they shut down the schools because of integration we...had to take classes in the churches in the community," said Jensen.
The graduates gathered at McGrady's Irish Pub to socialize and reflect on their history.
"Fifty is really a milestone. You're glad to be here. We've lost a lot of classmates. So you're really glad to be here, you're glad to see eachother," said Hatzenbeler.
"We were close then and even fifty years later we're still close. And getting together every five years and in between has just kept us as a tight knit group," said Jensen.
The 50 year reunion continues Saturday and Sunday with dinner and dancing on Saturday and a wine tour on Sunday.