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3-11-07 ‘Birth of the (Oconee County) Warriors’ - By Donald Hogan OCHS Class of 1957

The first Warrior basketball game was held at the old Bogart gymnasium. After the Warrior girls’ team won their first game, the boy’s team Warriors burst through a large paper made Indian head to begin the Warrior legacy. The Warriors won the first game 56 to 49, and the boys’ Cinderella team went on to win most of their games that first season.

AVOC

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March 11, 2007

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‘Birth of the (Oconee County) Warriors’ - Donald Hogan OCHS Class of 1957

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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The Oconee County High School mascot became the Warriors in the Fall of 1956 when Bogart High School and Watkinsville High School were consolidated into a new Oconee County High School on Mars Hill Road at Butler’s Crossing.

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In those days, the classes were small and less transient.    My wife and I were members of the OCHS Class of 1958, the first junior class and second graduating class.(I attended Watkinsville School for 10 years, starting with the First Grade in 1946).   Donald Hogan was a member of the Class of 1957.Donald’s wife, Frances Pritchett, was also a member of the Class of 58.Betty and Frances are first cousins.As a result, Donald and I have seen each other at many reunions (school and family) over the last 50 years.   We are also “email buddies.”

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Donald is retired from the GA Department of Education.Donald Hogan has always had a sense of humor and could be genuinely funny.He is not bashful and joined with Charles Dooley to sing a Country Song Duet at the 2004 Reunion of the Class of 1958 at Farmington Community Center in June 2004.

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Donald’s Class of 1957 will host the June 2007 Oconee County High Schools Reunion at the Oconee Civic Center in June 2007.In preparation for that event, Donald has written an article about his memory of that First Year at OCHS on the Mars Hill Road.   It appears below.

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Oconee County High School on Mars Hill Road

(Courtesy of Connie Epps Bond – Class of 1961)

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‘Birth of the (Oconee County) Warriors’ - By Donald Hogan OCHS Class of 1957

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Warrior Head

(Courtesy of Connie Epps Bond – Class of 1961

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The Author Donald Hogan

'Performing' at Farmington in June 2004

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The die was cast in late 1954. It was determined by the powers to be that consolidation of the Bogart and Watkinsville High Schools was the thing to do to improve education in the County.It would not be much longer before the Wildcats of Watkinsville, boasting over 400 plus students in grades 1-12, and the Bulldogs of Bogart with a school population of maybe 300 would cease their yearly clashing on the hardwood floors for county bragging rights. Both schools had a lot of pride and past history and made it a difficult decision but school officials with prodding from state leaders and a handout of state funds took the leap and settled on the fall of 1956 as the beginning of the new Oconee County High School. OCHS would begin operation with a population of some 400 students. In many Georgia towns there was blood letting during the school consolidation years of the 50’s but for Watkinsville and Bogart there were no shots fired and the transition went smoothly. The class of 1957 would be the first graduating class of the new Oconee County High School.

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The new school was located on Mars Hill Road at Butler’s Cross Roads, (Now the Oconee Middle School). School official had done their job well. Buses ran on schedule, teachers had their act together and the 150 Bogart students met the 250 students of Watkinsville and the fun began. Mr. A.P. Henderson, the former Watkinsville Principal took the helm as Principal and did an outstanding job of organizing and keeping order. Respected teachers at Watkinsville such as Mrs. Anna Curtis, Mr. Clarence Thomas, Mrs. Booth, and Ms .Hale joined forces with long time Bogart teachers such as Mrs. Frances de la Perriere, Mrs. Elizabeth Mitchum and Mr. G.L Blackwell. The first few days the hallways teemed with students meeting new faces and classes were filled with old friends and a lot of strangers. It did not take long. Within a couple of weeks, class routine and comfort zones were established, friends were made, and the class of 57 was the first official OCHS Senior Class but lacking a certain identity. This would be shortly resolved.

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The 1957 class consisted of 47 survivors of 11 years of grueling academic pressures at either the Bogart or Watkinsville School. (This is a joke of course) Most had begun their public schooling together in the 1st grade only to share the final year with an invasion of strangers and new surroundings. There were 26 senior students from Watkinsville and 21 from the Bogart School. Actually, It was more like a cousins’ reunion.Many of the Bogart and Watkinsville class members were acquainted before the union. Mr. A.P. Henderson was active with senior class issues and made sure those discussions were held on all major decisions and that any possible latent feelings of hostility were quickly addressed.Russell Lee from Watkinsville was elected President and Wayne Norris from Bogart was Vice President. Things went rather well with Russell conducting focused senior meetings with a little placating at times on his part at times in order not to offend party lines. By the end of the year, there were no students from Bogart or Watkinsville but only from Oconee County High School.

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It was noted by a few astute persons during the first year that the seniors that had attended Watkinsville provided an air of academia while the Bogart contingent provided character and amusement.Somewhat of a truth to the statement.There were severalbright students such as Sarah Henderson, Hildred Hardigree, Marsha Mallard, Evelyn Marshall, Tillie White, James Woodworth, Alton Butler and Russell Lee from Watkinsvillethat sort of led the seniorbrain train at Oconee that year, followed closely by good students likeMina Phillips, Janice Dillard, Rupert (Buster) Eades, and Sandra Nash, Yvonne Baugus, and Becky Duggan.   However, an exceptionally bright

Sara Henderson of Watkinsville led all students in intellectual powers and was the first valedictorian for the new Oconee County High School. If still at Bogart, the likes of Cornelia Caldwell, Rachel Mobley, and Leon Daniel would have taken second honors.

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The Two “Fonzies” of OCHS

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Within a month of the beginning of school that year, Jerry Huff, "The Fonz” of Bogart, was able to produce a perfect replica of Mr. AP. Henderson’s signature for select individuals.It was a bargain at only .50 cents per copy, but there is speculation that Doyle Dodd might have sold a few to the unknowing from Watkinsvillefor .75 cents and $ 1.00   It took teachers that had taught at Watkinsville quite a while to figure out how Wayne Norris, Gene Higginbotham, Eugene Smith, and William Whitehead could go and come as they pleased during those first few months. The Bogart teachers pretty well knew from past experience, especially G.L. Blackwell, but they kept silent. This was “the Bogart way”.   “The Fonz” of Watkinsville, Clyde Hardigree, was eventually set up to take most of the blame. While the Watkinsville group studied and prepared themselves for each day’s assignment, one could most likely find the Bogart boys at Mrs. Meeler’s hamburger joint on the Atlanta Highway plotting and planning the next day’s survival strategy.  

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The Warriors

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If you cross wildcats with bulldogs, you get either bullcats, wilddogs, wildbulls or catdogs.   All possible combinations of the previous mascot names for Watkinsville and Bogart were horrible. Time for a committee.  Don Hogan from Bogart, Russell Lee and Rupert (Buster) Eades from Watkinsville were assigned the task of proposing an appropriate mascot name for the new school.   Simply put, Oconee was an Indian name and needed a mascot that reflected this heritage. Oglethorpe County had consolidated a couple of years earlier and had selected, “Indians” as their mascot name.

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“Then Warriors we are”, said Don Hogan. Russell Lee presented the title to the senior class and unanimously, OCHS became the “Warriors”.  As a follow-up, Buster Eades sketched the head of a Warrior for a decal and before long there were a couple hundred warrior logos on the front or back windows of all family and personal cars. The selection of blue and white colors was simple, Watkinsville had been blue and yellow, and Bogart’s colors were Red, black and white. Blue and white it would be. The Warriors were birthed in name and color in the fall of 1956.

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NOTE:(Betty and I remember our Junior Class also participating in the choice of the Warriors name.  Our Homeroom Teacher, Marjorie Hale, explained that “Oconee” was an Indian word meaning “muddy waters”.)

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The Warriors first basketball and baseball coach was Mr.James Clegg who had previously coached at Lyons High School. There was no football at OCHS for several years after consolidation. There was no gymnasium at the new school and the old Bogart and Watkinsville gyms shared in game sites during the initial years. Practice was mainly held at the Watkinsville Gym.

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Watkinsville GYM as remembered in 1956

(Painting by Donna Self)

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Bogart GYM as remembered in 1956

(Picture from Bogart 1949 Annual- Ben McLeroy & Ray Casper)

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The first Warrior basketball game was held at the old Bogart gymnasium. After the Warrior girls’ team won their first game, the boy’s team Warriors burst through a large paper made Indian head to begin the Warrior legacy.  The Warriors won the first game 56 to 49, and the boys’ Cinderella team went on to win most of their games that first season.  The tall part of the team, consisting of the likes of Russell Lee, Bobby Porterfield, and Milton Crawford, was never more than 6 feet tall in the middle. Buster Eades and Jerry Huff, team forwards, top out at 5’10, and the two guards, Don Hogan and Verlyn Hammond, maybe were 5’ 8.  Bogart had won the District Class C Tournament in 1956 and three of Bogart’s players from that team, Don Hogan, Verlyn Hammond and Jerry Huff were now Warriors.    Most of the Warriors games were nip and tuck but the Warrior’s generally prevailed.

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The District Tournament was the highlight of the Warriors’ first year. The gal Warriors had done well and won a couple of tournament games. The Boy Warriors played hard and won three games by never more than a few points each and advanced to the final game at Old Woodruff Hall Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Georgia. From the get-go there was never more than four points separating the Oconee Warriors and the Oglethorpe Indians, but at the game’s end, the Warriors owned the day and the first OCHS Warriors were District Champs and placed the first trophy in new OCHS school.  The Warriors went on to the State Tournament and were eliminated by a team from Stone Mountain High School that eventually won the State Championship.   It was a good first year for the Warriors. The tradition had begun.

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The year ended with a Senior trip to Washington, D.C and New York City - 46 seniors and 5 chaperones   met at the Athens Train Station.Mr. Henderson had given the class the “good behavior speech” and the class waited patiently for the train.    Unfortunately for the chaperones, when the train arrived it had picked up at least 400 other high school graduates along the way and each car was open and most of the OCHS group disappeared into a sea of “The last fling” before the real world set in. It is probably not a good idea to recap all activities of that trip, and all survived the trip, but personal denial of individual behaviors on that trip is still practiced to this day.

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It was a good beginning for OCHS and the class of 1957 was a good group of students.   Romances were spawned. Some lasted a few days, a few weeks or months, and several have lasted fifty years or more.  School teachers, a preacher, bankers, engineers. successful executives, business owners and entrepreneurs,government employees, community leaders, and a host of good moms and dads came out of the class of 57.   Since then hundreds of “Warriors” students have tossed the white and blue tassel of OCHS across caps in graduation exercises, but the Class of “57” will always be known as the class that gave birth to the Warriors.

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Remembering how it was.

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Don Hogan

Class of 1957


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