By Dan King
Alumni from 19 states and two foreign countries made their way to Whitehall for the Whitehall High School All-Class Reunion this past weekend.
The states represented were Arizona, New Mexico, California, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, South Carolina, North Carolina, Montana, Virginia, Texas, Missouri and Michigan. The countries were Canada and Australia.
“We’ve got one alumni that comes to us all the way from Australia, so you people in Whitehall can’t complain,” joked Mike Rocque, one of the event’s organizers.
Geography wasn’t the only thing that covered a wide range – so did the age of the classmates.
Alumni ranging from the Class of 1938 to the Class of 2006 were present Saturday evening at the Whitehall Athletic Club. Classmates who hadn’t seen each other in decades caught up, and shared in laughs and memories.
Coincidentally, the event fell on the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Whitehall Central School District.
The formal part of the reunion started with a moment of silence for the victims of the horrific car accident on Route 22 in Dresden, and for the victims of violence foreign and at home.
Following that, Tom Abbott led the 500 attendees in singing the Star-Spangled Banner, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the Whitehall High School alma mater.
“We’ve had a lot of people who don’t remember the lyrics ask what they are,” Rocque said of the alma mater. However, a strong contingency of the crowd knew the lyrics by heart and in typical Whitehall fashion, proudly shouted “fight” during the line “Whitehall High will never falter, for we’ll fight for you.”
After that, Rocque thanked the many people who helped to make the gathering a huge success. He thanked Kay Affinito, Karen Day Gordon, Barb Neddo, Cheryl Huntington, Karen Beckwith, Jean Mead, Martha Bascue, Joyce Leifert, Abby Dickinson, Kathy Greenough, Johnny and Cherie St. Clair, Amy Michaud, Mike Putorti, Dee Dee Baldwin and Paul Ferguson.
He also gave a special thanks Cheryl Putorti for the work she put into the project.
“We were kind of floundering a little bit, but she stepped up to the plate and really helped us out,” Rocque said, pointing out that Putorti had helped make a similar project a success years ago.
When the formal portion of the event ended, the large group got back to socializing outside and inside. Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres were enjoyed and three bars were set up, while music from DJ Paul Ferguson filled the air.
The walls and curtains around the athletic club were decorated with old class yearbook photos, and pictures of former Junior Miss (now Distinguished Young Women) winners. The photos and collages were organized by decade, dating back to the 1930s.
A final tally of the questionnaires from those attending the event showed there were 124 retirees in attendance, a total of 3,870 combined years of marriage, 544 grandchildren, 127 great-grandchildren and 31 different countries visited.