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Chestatee marks 80th milestone
School has deep ties to community
School WEB 1
Chestatee Elementary teacher Melanie Roper points out a long line of yearbooks from the school on display Saturday during an 80th anniversary celebration. - photo by Autumn Vetter

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For more information about the Chestatee School history, visit

Dempsey Milford blew out the “8” and “0” birthday candles.

He hasn’t hit the milestone yet, but the 1959 graduate of Chestatee School drew the honors as an alumnus during the school’s 80th birthday celebration Saturday.

Now known as Chestatee Elementary School, the site began as a high school for the community in 1931.

It graduated students up through 1967, when Chestatee High consolidated with what was then Forsyth County High.

Since then, the campus off Keith Bridge Road in northeastern Forsyth has undergone several renovations. The last of its original buildings was razed in 1989.

One aspect that never changed, however, is the “Chestatee spirit,” said teacher Lori Holbrooks.

The crowd — including high school alumni, current elementary students and faculty members from throughout the years — gathered Saturday at the birthday celebration and fall festival agreed.

Many, like Holbrooks, share family history with the community school.

Melanie Roper, one of several faculty members whose past is linked to the school, presented its history in her Chestatee Museum.

Roper, both her parents, son, nephews, aunts and uncles, and even her great aunts and uncles attended Chestatee.

In second grade, she and her two brothers had their grandmother, Agnes Howard Nix, as their teacher.

“We have a lot of history here in the whole school, but this is only my connection,” said Roper, who teaches music at the elementary school.

“Several of our faculty have connections all the way back to 1931.”

Art teacher Julie Hubbard attended the school with her now husband. Both played basketball, which was the popular sport at the time, Roper said.

Teacher Tamela Stanford had great-grandparents and grandparents who worked as custodians, bus drivers and in the lunchroom. She and her mother also attended the school.

Laura Martin, Chestatee’s reigning teacher of the year, had a great-grandfather who helped build the original school.

Martin, a former Chestatee student, celebrated with Holbrooks and Amy Garrett, fellow alumni who have returned to teach.

The teachers said the school’s appearance and sheer size are nothing like when they went there.

They enjoyed celebrating the day with the community so everyone could share the history.

“It’s just been fun bringing back the memories, and learning new things about the past, like connections that we didn’t even know were there,” Martin said.

Some of their students share a Chestatee history as rich as the teachers.

Fifth-grader Karlee Mullinax is a fourth-generation student, whose father, grandmother and great-grandparents attended Chestatee.

“[Eighty years] feels like a long time,” Mullinax said.

Classmate Grace Sasser had a much shorter lineage, since her lone family connection is that her mother used to teach there.

She loves Chestatee all the same and was happy to celebrate with the community, old and new.

“I’m glad [the festival] is for celebrating it so everybody can come and have fun,” she said.