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Flat Rock High School marks history

FLAT ROCK — Former students and teachers gathered Saturday, Oct. 5, to celebrate the history of Flat Rock High School and dedicate a historic marker.

"Whitmires are good at telling stories," said Boyce Whitmire, who retired as a teacher and principal at Flat Rock. "Not only that, there is a lot of history in this room."
One of three brothers who devoted more than 100 years combined to Henderson County schools, Whitmire went on to describe his fondest school memories, and encouraged others to stand up and describe their connections to the past. He included a tribute to E.L. Justus, principal of Flat Rock High School from 1932 to 1960, chuckling as he described the school leader as "very good at tasting the biscuits in the lunchroom."
"He was a very easy-going, tolerant, patient, understanding person full of integrity," added Elizabeth Rogers, a history and Latin teacher under Justus. "He never raised his voice. He commanded respect with his mannerisms and friendliness. He always helped people."
The program also featured author, Robert Morgan, who attended Flat Rock for two years and then East Henderson High School. With 26 books published and 42 years of teaching at Cornell University, Morgan is "quite a fellow," Flat Rock graduate Mitchell Osteen said. "We are delighted to have this guy with us today."
Morgan read from his most recent novel, "The Road from Gap Creek," the sequel to "Gap Creek." The scene he selected was set at Flat Rock High School in the 1930s.
"People asked me for a sequel almost from the day my first novel was published," he said. "I wrote the first draft very fast. So, today it is exciting to return to see the people that I have close ties to. It is especially nice to come to an event like this. It is a good crowd."
Morgan delved into high school memories, focusing on how select teachers influenced his success throughout the years. The audience of mostly mountain natives chuckled when Morgan noted that the Northern accent of Elizabeth Rogers, who taught him Latin and history, brought a "new appreciation for the exactness of words." Memories of biology teacher Leslie Fischer's contagious "passion and commitment" to teaching brought knowing nods. The audience appreciated the chance to hear Morgan read from his new novel.
"I live in Green River about two miles away from where Morgan was raised, which is neat," said Elaine Edwards, class of '55. "My daughter just loves to get a hold of his books. They are good."
Though the celebration committee had hoped for a larger crowd, emcee Charles Thomas, a former principal, said he was "very pleased with the day."
"We had a good turnout. These are some enthusiastic folks that haven't seen one another in a very long time," he said.
The alumni flipped through yearbooks, chatted with classmates and gazed at old photographs.
"It is very wonderful seeing some of the fellow students and catching up," said Theo Sitton, class of '59.