KEYSER - The year 1977 was a pivotal one for Keyser High School.
Still housed in the former brick mansion which fronted Davis Street and overlooked the entire downtown area, KHS at that time had been bitter basketball rivals with nearby Piedmont High School.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The year 1977 was a pivotal one for Keyser High School.
Still housed in the former brick mansion which fronted Davis Street and overlooked the entire downtown area, KHS at that time had been bitter basketball rivals with nearby Piedmont High School.
Due to budgetary issues in the county, however, Keyser and Piedmont were targeted for consolidation and the graduating class of 1977 was to be the first to include students from both schools.
Suddenly approximately 30 students from Piedmont found themselves in an entirely new environment and students from Keyser found new faces in their old familiar hallways.
Today - 40 years later - members of that class still vividly remember the myriad of emotions they experienced as Piedmont became the mighty Lions that helped the Golden Tornado stay strong.
Last week, during Homecoming at Keyser High School, five members of the Class of ’77 spoke to the current students at KHS about their experiences and urged them to keep an open mind, learn to adapt to change, and never forget where you came from.
Moderated by Leontyne Clay Peck, who went by the nickname Gaye in school, the panel consisted of Jay Stickley of Keyser, Rebecca Kruk Costello of Hanover, Pennsylvania, Eve Green of Keyser (formerly of Piedmont), and Bonnie Myers of Augusta.
Stickley told the students that the addition of Piedmont students took many of the Keyser students “out of their comfort zone,” in that many of them had been together since grade school.
He soon found, however, that he would make many really good new friends.
Becky Costello, who was a member of the cheer squad, noted that the Keyser cheerleaders were excited to welcome their Piedmont counterparts and incorporate their spirited cheers, because they felt the Lions “they had it going on.”
“We taught each other and we learned from each other, and we became a strong, confident squad,” she said, nodding to Leontyne Peck, who was a member of the squad from Piedmont.
Some were not so easy to convince at first, however. Eve Green told the crowd when she first heard of the merger she had stated, “I will never wear a Keyser t-shirt!”
She soon discovered, however, with an open mind, that she “met some wonderful friends” from Keyser.
Her advice for the students in the audience in 2017?
“Don’t be afraid of change. All your life there will be change.”
Bonnie Myers noted that the addition of Piedmont’s students made the Class of ’77 the largest class to graduate from KHS at that time.
“That made us proud,” she said, adding that the students from both schools “really became one class. It was amazing.”
She urged the students to “never stop learning.”
Leontyne Peck urged the students to remember where they are from and to move to the future “with compassion in your heart.
“Out there among you,” she said as she gestured to the crowd, “are people who will be magnificently successful and famous.”
The panelists also took several questions from the audience, including whether they remembered the Piedmont fight song. After Peck and Green sang that to the crowd, everyone joined in for the Keyser fight song.
Members of the class held a “meet and greet” later in the day at the high school, and attended the Homecoming game together. During halftime, they presented principal Mike Lewis with a donation for the KHS Athletic Complex.