GILLIS, LA (KPLC) - Before there was a Sam Houston High School, Gillis High School served students in the northern part of Calcasieu Parish. This weekend, students will gather to remember their alma mater, and an event that almost wiped out their campus. This group of now-retired adults were some of the last students of the old Gillis High School. In 1961, the school had it's last graduating class and students moved to the new Sam Houston High School in Moss Bluff.
"You start off going to college and job seeking and in your education experience you put down a high school that is no more," said Clyde Dennis, Class of 1961. "It was kind of special, but it was kind of sad."
Since most of the population had moved to Moss Bluff, school officials decided to relocate.
"This was the only place I went to school," said Robbie Lynn Yerkey. "I lived in Moss Bluff and I rode the bus every school day for 12 years. I graduated from here."
There were a lot of memories at Gillis High, but one stands out: the day an air force trainer jet crashed in front of the school.
"I just heard a loud noise," said Dennis. "Didn't really know what it was. The plane had skidded over the football field and hit some grand stands. Glanced off a pole. Landed on a house across the street, in front of the school."
A woman inside the house escaped severe burns.
"There was a cistern by the room she was sewing in, and the water burst all around her and that's what kept her getting burned," said Yerkey. "Mr. Barkate, Mr. Boutte and some students went over there and got her out of the house."
The pilot had ejected and a few days later returned to the school to meet the students.
"He said the plane just kind of went on a glider slope and kept edging more and more toward the school," said Dennis. "The pilot just got a sinking feeling the whole time he was watching that plane go down."
There'll be plenty of stories shared at a reunion of Gillis students this Saturday, October 28, 2017 from 1-3pm at First Baptist Church of Moss Bluff gym.