Buchanan High School celebrates 100 years

Published 12:13 pm Sunday, June 12, 2022

BUCHANAN — A local school born in 1922 continues to nurture minds and protect its herd of students and teachers 100 years later.

Buchanan students, teachers and staff from the past, present and future gathered in Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon as Buchanan Community Schools hosted a centennial celebration to recognize the 100-year history of Buchanan High School. 

“Today, we stand together as a high school community,” said Buchanan High School Principal Stacey Demaio, who is also a Buchanan graduate. “Today, we have Buchanan High School in common and together, we have a shared history.”

The ceremony featured musical performances from Buchanan alums Anne Schrader and Raquel George as well as a service melody and fight song performance from the Buchanan Marching Band.

In addition, the ceremony featured special speakers, dedications, tours, historical displays and activities for children including a petting zoo provided by BCS Farm. 

Dr. Bernice Patterson and Jay Town were the featured keynote speakers of the afternoon. Patterson – a 2000 Buchanan graduate and founder of Infinity Consultation Group who is the first African American Buchanan graduate to earn a doctorate –  reflected on the school’s impact in the community and how it has shaped the many who have walked its halls.

“We are looking at a school that has a hundred-year legacy,” she said. “I’m curious to know what your hundred, your legacy will look like? So, today, before we get out of here, I want to encourage you to know you are a part of this hundred year legacy. Go shake up the world, shake up yourself and shake up somebody you love.”

A 1991 Buchanan graduate, Town earned his Law Degree from Seton Hall University in New Jersey in 1998 before becoming a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Marine Corps. From 2017 to 2020, Town served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. 

While his career has taken him many places, he insists it all started in Buchanan.

“Every kid that passes through those hallways of Buchanan High School, myself included, had the same opportunity to be awakened and it was given to them by the promise of this place, this community,” he said. “That promise was preparedness and from preparedness comes improvement and from improvement – excellence – and that’s really all any institution can promise. Buchanan High School kept its promise. That is the legacy of this place, that is the legacy of this community.”

The celebration also showcased the unveiling of two commemorative projects – a new electronic marquee for the high school and multiple trees planted alongside the school on Phelps Street that were donated by the Dougherty Family.

Generations of Bucks

While there is no one alive who attended BHS when it opened in 1922, there was someone in attendance who was alive when it did.

Geneva Swem was born in 1922 and celebrated 100 years of age this year. A 1939 graduate of Buchanan High School, Swem and her late husband Dean raised three children – all of whom attended Buchanan Schools – and continues to take pride in her Buchanan roots and being a lifelong Buck.

Swem was given a standing ovation by those in attendance for her years of service to the community.

Swem was not the only former Buck recognized at the ceremony. Several Buchanan graduates were recognized for their longtime family ties to the district, including Beth Chubb. A retired teacher whose career spanned from 1968 to 2002, Chubb’s family has had six generations attend Buchanan schools.

Chubb’s grandfather-in law graduated from the original Buchanan high school on Chicago Road in 1898.

“We go way back,” she said. “It’s really nice. Having taught in the schools, it’s great to see that this building is still in good shape and that there are lots of people that still appreciate graduating from here.”