JONESVILLE — The community of Jonesville got a shock to its system when Disney announced late last month it would — over the next year — consolidate its distribution services at the facility north of town on Highway 176 to another center in Memphis.
The news was hard to swallow.
“Now, more than ever, we need something positive going on here,” said 1984 Jonesville High School graduate and JHS Alumni Association member Robert “Dollar” Hill.
Hill and several of his fellow JHS alumni want to offer the community just that — a chance to reconnect with neighbors and friends; an opportunity for everyone in town, whether a graduate of JHS or not, to come together and celebrate everything Jonesville has to offer.
But to do it, the alumni association needs help.
“We need more people to help and participate,” said 1986 JHS graduate and association member Ann “Littlejohn” Rice said.
Rice and Hill are coordinators of the alumni association’s first-ever “Forever Blue” JHS reunion and community fun day event planned for July 30-31. They announced earlier this year the association’s plans to host the event which will include a reunion banquet and dance at the Marriott Renaissance in Spartanburg on Friday, July 30, and a community fun day slated for the following Saturday.
For the event to be held like the association plans, however, requires more to get involved.
Rice said the response from community members and her fellow alumni following the organization’s annoucement of its plans for this special weekend was good but since has waned.
“We are really disappointed,” Hill said.
He and Rice each said when people found out about the event many were excited but no one really has stepped up to offer assistance. They want people to know that this is not an event that was only just planned — it’s been two years in the making. Alumni association members think now is the right time for an event of this kind to not only rally the community but to welcome back JHS alumni, a population that is only getting smaller.
“The season is now,” Rice said.
When she walked into the library at the former Jonesville High School — its ownership transferred to the Town of Jonesville a few months ago from the Union County School District — and found no books on its shelves, her heart broke.
The alumni association wants to help bring back some of what Jonesville lost when the high school closed and will be a chief supporter of the activities, events and services the town puts in their former alma mater.
That’s the main purpose of the community fun day and reunion event being planned for next month. All money raised from the event will be placed into an account — under the supervision and watchful eyes of the association — that can be tapped to pay for needs at the former school building. Rice and Hill said the association will decide after hearing proposals from Jonesville officials how any money it raises will be spent.
Plans for the weekend celebration have changed since the pair announced them in March.
The reunion banquet and dance are moving ahead as scheduled and will take place from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. at the Spartanburg hotel. Hill and Rice said the Marriott was selected to host the event for several reasons, including the fact that the hotel takes care of all set up and tear down so alumnus can attend the event without the worry of having to help clean up or set up.
The reunion banquet will feature a catered buffet meal and dance to follow. The alumni association is looking for at least 300 to attend the banquet and dance to make it a success.
The community fun day on Saturday originally was set to last from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. but plans have changed and events now will be held only from 4-9 p.m. that day, if the community day goes as planned which, again, depends on the support the association receives.
An alumni football game as well as an alumni basketball game are planned along with Bingo and prizes, childrens events and activities and musical acts.
If the association cannot get the support it needs to host the community fun day, the event will be canceled but the organization still will sell JHS alumni T-shirts and event sponsorship banners for those businesses, industries or individuals who commit to sponsoring the reunion and community day.
Two levels of sponsorship are being offered — corporate sponsorships for donations to the event of $200 or more and small business/in memory of sponsorships for $100. That sponsorship money will be used for the same purposes as all other funds raised through the events and sponsors will have banners that will be laminated and placed on the fences at the JHS football field.
The weekend of July 30-31 looks to be a special one for the community of Jonesville and Rice and Hill said it would be made that much more special if the community got behind what the alumni association is trying to do — bring back the memories and sense of community all of them and their fellow classmates had when they attended school at JHS.
The association also wants people to know it plans to purchase items like computers, exercise equipment and books — to replenish the shelves of the JHS library — that will benefit the entire the community as they will be used at the former high school building. The organization also plans to hold other fundraisers throughout the year to support the building and activities planned there, from youth events to senior citizen functions.
“What we want to do is pour back into the community,” Rice said, adding the community gave them so much as children and students the association members only feel this is the right thing to do. “We just need the community to support us in what we’re trying to do.”
Alumni association members are asking any and all Jonesville community members who want to help with the event to attend a meeting from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at the Jonesville library.
Anyone who wants to attend the Friday, July 30, banquet and dance also is encouraged to attend the meeting to make sure their spot is reserved.
Rice and Hill said this event will be an opportunity for the community to gather together and celebrate Jonesville and remember Jonesville High. They are encouraging anyone with old photos from when they were in school at JHS to submit them to be used as part of a slideshow during the banquet and then placed in a book for children at the library.
The alumni association is looking for support and hopes the community will rally around its purpose.
In the end, however, Rice and Hill hope the weekend’s events will be something those who participate won’t forget.
“We’re going to have fun,” Rice said.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
If you would like to help the Jonesville High School Alumni Association plan and put on its first-ever JHS all-school reunion and banquet and community fun day, contact Ann “Littlejohn” Rice, Robert “Dollar” Hill, alumni association president Mark Sanders, treasurer Donna Rochester or any of the association’s members. You can also get more information by visiting the association’s Web site at www.jonesvillehigh.com or its Facebook page. Just search for Jonesville High Alumni.