By Doris Bloodsworth
Although there has not been a Groveland or Clermont High School in south Lake County since 1993, the spirit of the alumni is stronger than ever.
On April 21, the Groveland Greenbacks celebrated their annual reunion, and the following Saturday, the Clermont Highlanders did the same.
Groveland High alumni set a new record in attendance and first-time attendees. The annual get-together, for anyone who attended the school as a student or teacher, usually drew about 190 alumni. This year the total rose to 336.
One of the traditions, at the orange-and-green affair, is to honor the class celebrating its 50thgraduation anniversary. So, the Class of 1968 had a strong presence in the festivities.
Class president Dale Watson also served as the president of the board and planning committee. Watson is one of Groveland’s most famous graduates, having served as the executive assistant director of the FBI. While serving in the No.2 position, Watson oversaw counterterrorism and counterintelligence for all of America. A regular presence in the Oval Office, he oversaw the investigations of the 9/11 terrorist attack and was instrumental in all the high-profile terrorism investigations, including the Oklahoma City bombing and the bombings of the U.S embassies in East Africa and the U.S.S. Cole. He is currently a senior executive advisor to Booz Allen Hamilton, a global consulting firm headquartered in McLean, Va.
Watson shared some brief facts about the class. It was the first integrated class from Groveland High School. Among its members is Doris Bloodsworth, the former communications director for the City of Clermont. One of the other classmates, Jack Speer, played football for Florida State and the University of Florida and has written many songs about Groveland. He wrote a special song for the occasion titled “The Class of ’68.” Another well-known member is Clinton Lowe, head of the family-owned Lake Catherine Blueberry Farm in Groveland.
The reunion included a gourmet buffet, a stirring tribute to veterans and a roll call of all the classes represented.
The oldest alumni also came one of the longest distances. Charles Raines, Class of 1949, came from Phoenix. Two sisters came from Alaska.
The event ended with the tradition of everyone singing the school’s Alma Mater. And even after all these years, no one needs the words or music. They are written in the hearts of all those attending.