Dolly PartonWhen Dolly Parton graduated from Sevier County High School in East Tennessee 46 years ago, it was announced during the ceremony that her dream was to be a big country-western singer. Today, Dolly's former classmates remember her as being very popular in high school ... but they also recall that some of them in the audience laughed at that announcement.

They certainly weren't laughing when the superstar recently attended her 46th high-school class reunion.

"It was really sad," one old school chum recalls. "Look at what she did with that dream. You should never laugh at somebody's dream."

"She was a good person, and everybody liked her," another former classmate remembers. ""It was always a good time just being around her. She sang on [radio] back then ... being on the radio back then was a big deal."

But even though Dolly's classmates were in awe of her -- because she sang on radio and TV -- nobody dreamed she would be the global icon she is today.

"We thought she would make it [in music], but how far, we didn't know," says yet another former classmate. "No one could imagine it would be like this. She hasn't changed. She's been Dolly ever since I've known her."

As for Dolly, she was over the moon to be reunited with so many of her old class chums again after so many years.

"I loved it!" Dolly enthuses. "Some people looked good ... some didn't look so good. I don't know when we can do this again, but we're going to try on our 50th [anniversary], ain't we?" she told the crowd ... none of whom were laughing at anything but her famous sense of humor now.

Dolly will open the gates of Dollywood the weekend of May 22 and is donating net proceeds from ticket sales to flood relief efforts in Nashville.

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