Few graduates anywhere can look back on a more checkered, more dramatic, or ultimately more memorable high school experience than our senior class of 1959 at Hall High, Little Rock.
Over the course of three years, we passed squarely through the hurricane that the world remembers as the Little Rock Integration Crisis. Famously, our former classmates at Central High bore the brunt of that storm; but its winds whirled outward across the city, state, and not least to us at Hall.
1956-1957. Most of us spent our sophomore year at Central High, then the city's only white high school (except for Technical High). The developing Integration Crisis brooded unnoticed over the horizon. Life that year was calm and peaceful, like a movie version of the Fifties.
1957-1958. When Hall High opened on the western fringe of Little Rock in September 1957, the seniors who lived in Hall's district were given a choice: continue at Central or move to Hall? But we juniors were not. Thus came our first distinction: we were the highest-ranking first full class to call ourselves Hall High Warriors.
We watched the Integration Crisis from the safety of a cross-town distance, mindful of the gravity of the events unfolding around us. The Central we had known only a few short months ago was now in turmoil. By contrast life seemed almost normal inside Hall, even though for a few days a small contingent of soldiers took up positions at the corner of campus near McKinley and H. For that, we felt an adolescent twinge of pride: Our ex-classmates at Central had their troops, but we had ours too.
1958-59. As the summer of 1958 wound down, our class looked forward to being seniors at last. Most of us had already bought our textbooks. But the previous year's deployment of federal troops to enforce integration at Central had created a vast reservoir of popular discontent in Little Rock. At a special referendum on September 27, voters chose overwhelmingly, 19,000 to 7,000, to close all the city's high schools rather than accept integration.
None of us could evade the enormous question: what do we do about school? Still teenagers, we wrenched ourselves loose from this adult tempest of politics and public passion, grew up fast, and dived for cover.
Nearly all of us found safe harbor somewhere. For some, it was as close as the suburban school district of Pulaski County. For others, it was as far away as Texas or Pennsylvania or Germany. Still others skipped the rest of high school and went straight to college. Although Hall remained closed all year, in a piquant twist the Warrior football team played out its fall schedule like some disembodied ghost, ending the season with a triumphant 10-1 record.
1959-2009. Little Rock's high schools reopened for the 1959-1960 school year, leaving our class with its second distinction: the only senior class at Hall High never to be a senior class at Hall High.
What remains are the bonds we forged as Warriors. From all over the world, the Hall High Class of 1959 has gathered together for reunions -- in 1969, in 1979, in 1984, in 1989, in 1994, in 1999, in 2004 and in 2009. With this new website and our forthcoming Fifty-Fifth Anniversary Reunion in 2014, we honor the things that unite us, mourn our departed classmates, and celebrate our endurance.