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Farragut Class of ’77 first out of new school

Farragut High School Class of 1977 holds a special distinction among all FHS classes.

“We were the first graduating class out of the new Farragut High School, which is at its current location now,” said Reneau Cooper Howard, one of the organizers of the Class of 1977’s upcoming 30-year reunion. “It’s kind of cool to be the first class out of that school.”

Howard still lives in Farragut, and said she remembers how nice the new facilities were.

“The gymnasium was state-of-the-art for its time compared to that old, dilapidated gym we had,” she said. “The ladies’ locker room had showers and laundry facilities; nothing like we had ever seen at the old Farragut.”

Other members of the class have different memories about what it meant to move into the new high school their senior year.

“It was a huge culture change for me. Going from being the Farragut Farmers one day to the Farragut Admirals the next day. Going from a rural school in the eleventh-grade and in the twelfth-grade you’re in one of the biggest schools in the state,” David Shirley said.

He said he plans on attending the 30-year reunion, scheduled for the weekend of July 20. He lives in Mount Airy, N.C, and works as the general manager of Burton Electric Signs, a regional sign manufacturer. Shirley said he is married, and has a son and stepson.

Michael Hunt, voted Best Looking by his class, said he remembers the loss of freedom during the transition to the new school.

“The old school … was so overcrowded. During lunch period they had an open campus. They basically said get in your car and go find something to eat because we don’t have the capacity to manage it all here,” he said. “We actually had some unbelievable freedom to wander off campus and sometimes come back and sometimes not. It was a challenge to keep up with the school, it was so overcrowded; and in contrast, when we moved to the new school senior year, it was almost a lockdown. No more off-campus lunch.”

He added not everybody followed the new rules.

“It was a hard transition for many of us. We continued to wander off at lunch, and we continued to not come back,” he said. “We kept the vice-principal pretty busy.”

Hunt said he works as managing director of the energy trading and asset management for Dominion Resources in Richmond, Va. He said he is married with four children – two girls and two boys, and plans on attending the reunion.

Elena Kandalakis, now Elena Mikalis, was voted Best Girl Athlete by the class. Sports facilities, or a lack of them, is what she remembers.

“Because it was a new school, there were no facilities for track and field. They had no track, nothing for the athletes to practice on. … In order to get in shape for track, we used to run up to the water tower. It was at the top of a hill,” she said. “I did long-jump and high-jump and I could never practice because we didn’t have a long-jump pit or a high-jump pit, so I just went to meets cold, with no practice. That was an experience.”

Though she lives in Rockville, Md., Kandalakis also said she hopes to attend the reunion. She said she is married, has two sons, and currently works as the director for the ASEAN affairs division at the Department of Commerce.

Bob Fisher, voted Best Actor and Class Clown, lives in Knoxville. He remembers another first set by his class.

“If I’m getting the story right, [senior year] was the first time a play had ever made money in the history of Farragut High School. We were actually able to fund the theatre department, which in subsequent years has produced some pretty decent talent,” he said. “I know we sold out one night, and I think we came pretty close to selling out both nights.”

Fisher said he is married, has a son and a daughter, and works as a UPS driver, something he said pays the bills so he can work for fun on the side, including being published and having his own radio show.

Plans for the 30-year reunion are wrapping up.

“We have our reunion planned for the weekend of July twentieth, with an informal gathering at the Concord Yacht Club. Our formal event is Saturday night, July twenty-first at the Fox Den Country Club,” Howard said.

Additional information can be found at, or call Rhonda Luebke at 865-693-7895, Reneau Cooper Howard at 865-384-4631 or Rena Camp Amerson at 865-705-3600.


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