Fortieth Reunion brings Mariners homeOrganizers of William Kelley High School’s 40th class reunion are going to Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree and welcome back many of their own July 11-14 . Whether their classmates arrive on the Love Train, the Long Train Runnin’ or get a Free Ride it’ll be a weekend of Reelin’ in the Years and recalling Yesterday Once More. (Remember all those songs?)
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Organizers of William Kelley High School’s 40th class reunion are going to Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree and welcome back many of their own July 11-14 . Whether their classmates arrive on the Love Train, the Long Train Runnin’ or get a Free Ride it’ll be a weekend of Reelin’ in the Years and recalling Yesterday Once More. (Remember all those songs?)
According to Cheryl Blood Newman, WKHS class of 1973, many have RSVP’d and plan to attend the reunion, themed Love, Peace and Remember.
“The turnout has been wonderful. Over 80 people, more than half of our group has said they’re coming,” she told the Lake County News-Chronicle by phone from the Twin Cities. Newman recalled growing up in the town that taconite built and the sense of community she said existed there.
“When I think about living in Silver Bay, it was really a young town – lots of kids to play with – you had a sense of family and knowing your neighbors. That was a precious thing,” she said. Later as a high school student, Newman recalled that spirit among her classmates, which included the decision to open the class’ prom to anyone who wanted to attend – not just those who had a date.
“There was a real sense of inclusiveness with our class and that was cool,” she said. While many look back at the 70s as a simpler time – no cell phones or home computers and fewer distractions – Newman said there were also issues that weighed heavily on her generation, including the Vietnam War. She noted that one of her teachers, West Duluth native, Pat Francisco, received his draft notice during that time – an event that brought the reality of a far-away war home to students in her class.
Lou Ann Elam has been in charge of planning the reunion and said that the last few items on her to-do list are falling into place. She said the weekend-long gathering is taking place at the same time the community will be observing Bay Days, so attendees will have ample opportunity for fun and for making memories.
“On Thursday night we’re meeting at a classmate’s house and we’re just going to order some pizzas and decorating a float for the parade. Friday and Saturday night there’ll be a social hour at the Silver Bay municipal liquor store; there’s a meeting room downstairs,” she said. Bands – The Shack Shakers and GB Leighton – have been booked for Bay Days and will be playing outside. Elam also said that a bon fire is planned for Bayside Park — a time to get together, “tell stories and reminisce.” A few of the class’ former teachers have been invited to the bon fire to share their views on the class of 1973, too. On Sunday morning there’s the fire fighters pancake breakfast followed by the parade at 1 p.m.
As of last Sunday morning, with her planning and coordination tasks well in hand, Elam said she’s looking forward to the reunion, and getting acquaint with classmates.
“It’s been rewarding for me to organize this and meet up with the ones I didn’t know in high school,” she said, adding that most people seem to be at a place in life when getting together has become important.
“This seems to be more special than any of the other reunions,” she said. Newman agreed.
“I’ve found that the nature of these class reunions changes over the years….and get better. There is a greater bond in the later years as you and your classmates have been through more of life’s shared experiences,” she said.
Editor’s note: In addition to the WKHS class of 1973, a number of local high school classes hold class reunions during Heritage Days and Bay Days. The News-Chronicle wishes them all a memorable weekend!