Miscellaneous Class Reunion Teacher Stories

Class of 1952 Honor Teacher

Ella Wheeler Wharton Hooker, 98, was hired in 1945 to teach English literature and grammar at West Columbia (Texas) High School, and at Columbia-Brazoria ISD until she retired in 1970. West Columbia Class of 1952 reunion organizers didn’t have to worry about her not showing up. She hasn’t missed a reunion yet.

Fifty-five years after the Class of 1952 graduated, the students honored Hooker at their class reunion. West Columbia City Council and trustees passed resolutions honoring her, proclaiming that she has continued to enrich the lives of her former students and never missed a reunion of the Class of 1952. It recognized her for her service as an educator, mentor and friend to the students, and for her interest in the lives of the students she taught.

From an article by Erin McKeon in the Brazosport Facts, Clute, Texas.

With Miss Rosetta Again

Miss Rosetta, kindergarten teacher to a generation of West Hartford (Connecticut) children, joined a reunion of members of her first class, now in their late 60s, channeling their inner five-year-olds. “She gave a lot of us a good start,” said one of the classmates.

Members of Ann Rosetta’s 1944-45 Charter Oak Elementary School class recalled the hallmarks of kindergarten: graham crackers and milk, the fish pond built into the classroom, blankets at naptime, Miss Rosetta singing to them. Another said, “I figure this is going to keep us younger. We all feel like kids now.”

Rosetta’s arrival didn’t change that. She hugged them, remarking at how they had changed since kindergarten 63 years ago. They called her Miss Rosetta; she called them “the kids.” They shared vivid memories of each other and the woman who helped them learn to love school. These were the first children Rosetta taught after graduating college in 1944. It was her first class. The meeting with Miss Rosetta coincided with the Hall High School Class of 1957 50th reunion.

Several of the students admitted to a childhood infatuation with Rosetta. Rosetta assumed her familiar role, standing before them and telling stories to her kindergartners about a 33-year career at Charter Oak Elementary School. She was named an Outstanding Elementary School Teacher of America in 1974.

From a story by Arielle Levin Becker in the Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut.

Dear Me: How’s it Going?

Imagine reaching back through the years to have a conversation with the person you were 10 years ago. Quincy (Illinois) Notre Dame English teacher Pat Lask has her seniors write a letter to themselves to open at their 10-year-class reunion.

Lask doesn’t read the letters. She places them in an envelope, tapes it shut and addresses it to the class president. It sits in the school’s Development Office until the reunion organizer collects it.

Jamie Busen collected the letters for the Class of 1997 the day before the reunion. She was excited about reading her letter. Busen recalls she stayed after class to finish a 10-page letter to herself. She remembers writing about the expectations she had and the kind of person she hoped she would be. She praised Lask for providing a link between students’ future and their past. “I think it’s just kind of cool being 28 and reading what an 18-year-old wrote.” The letter has been in the back of her mind through the years, while some of her classmates can’t remember writing them.

Reunions have featured the letters for about five years and another 10 years worth await their turn. Although Lask doesn’t attend reunions she knows the letters have become important. She now asks seniors to produce a video as a final project in which they explain what they learned from literature or life. They have to tell a story with a musical background. She hopes the videos will be around for students’ 20th reunion.

From a story by Holly Wagner in the Quincy Herald Whig, Quincy, Illinois.

New Reunion Tradition in Fallon, Nevada

Ninety-three former employees and guests shared memories and got re-acquainted at the first Churchill County (Nevada) School District Former Employees Reunion. Teachers, support staff, and administrators learned what former colleagues had been doing and reminisced about working experiences.

Mayor Ken Tedford thanked former employees for their contribution to kids and to the community. “We never thank you enough,” he said. From the successful turnout and enthusiasm for this first reunion, a new tradition has made its way into Fallon culture.

From a story by Chris Hansen in the Reno Gazette Journal, Reno, Nevada.

Memories of School Days Golden

Long ago in 1920, nine ladies who enjoyed their friendships organized the Newton Falls (Ohio) Schoolmates and Friends Reunion. They elected officers and met the fourth Wednesday of each June for a picnic dinner. Picnic baskets were ample enough for lunch and dinner and the afternoon was spent visiting, enjoying contests and group singing.

As attendance grew larger, reunions were held in the Newton Falls Community Center. The 50th anniversary in 1970 had 85 attending. During this year’s roll call of classes, 11 classmates stood, representing 1930 to 1939. Laura Clabaugh Cassidy of Sycamore, Ohio, a 1931 Newton Falls graduate, received special recognition for her 75th class reunion. In 1933, teachers were invited and through the years the reunion has honored faculty. Nine teachers were in attendance at the 87th celebration.

From a story by Betty Jane Hewitt the Tribune Chronicle, Warren, Ohio.

Teacher Plans Reunion with Former Students

Ila Ford, Lexington City, North Carolina, taught hundreds of students during her 31-year teaching career and she’d like one more chance to give them a big hug.  Former students describe Ford as a teacher who “thought outside the box” and her class as “so much fun.” She always made school exciting. Ford has scrapbooks with photos of almost every one of her former students. She often looks through them and wonders where some of her students are today.

Ford and six former students are planning a reunion of her schools. Ford taught at Eanes Elementary and Pickett Primary schools from 1962 to 1969 and Davis-Townsend Elementary School from 1969 to 1985.

In 1967, each of Ford’s students adopted a US soldier to write to while he served in Vietnam.

Contact Ford at 357-2366, Amy Avery Frank at 279-0305 or Phyllis Comer Tedder at 853-8257.

From a story by Jill Doss-Raines in the Lexington Dispatch, Lexington, North Carolina.

Grade School Class Finds Teacher

After Pamela Peak lost her sister-in-law to breast cancer, she felt sad and vulnerable, and wanted to surround herself with people she loved and who loved her.

So in May 2003 she began to search for elementary school classmates she hadn’t seen in more than 30 years. To one, she wrote, “Are you who went to Cerveny Elementary School in Detroit in the 1960s? If so, you may remember me.”

Of course they remembered her. When they got together on the phone days later, they decided to reconnect with as many of their classmates as they could find.

“Every single person said the same thing. First … ‘I can’t believe you found me,’ and then, ‘Where’s Mr. Bell? Where’s Mr. Bell?’”

Alvin Bell was the only black male elementary teacher at Cerveny Elementary School in Detroit’s white, middle-class northwest neighborhood.

In fall 1966, Peak and the other third-grade students were in his first class at Cerveny. They met a tall, 30-year-old man with a wide smile, a gentle demeanor and a self-deprecating sense of humor. He remained with them for three years. Peak calls him “that once-in-a-lifetime teacher that maybe you’re lucky enough to have.”

She remembers Bell leading classroom discussions about race, economic inequity, nonviolence, the civil rights movement and other important issues in the racially charged atmosphere in Detroit in the 1960s. After the riots, Peak and her family moved away, as did many other families. They lost contact with each other after the 1968 school year, their last with Mr. Bell.

In summer 2003, Peak and a handful of students widened their search and within a few months, they’d contacted former classmates and began talking about a reunion in Detroit. They set a date in September.

Meanwhile, Peak got a phone number for Bell. She called. As they talked, she began to realize that the former teacher remembered each of his students as vividly as he remembered her, and that their dreams for their lives were important to him.

From a story by Valerie Takahama in the Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California

Miss Kensy is Reunion Star!

Louise Kensy (Tschugunov) was one of Warren Harding (Ohio) High School’s Class of 1948’s three teachers still living at the time of the 55th reunion. A friend drove Miss Kensy from Akron, Ohio, to Warren for the Saturday night dinner. She spoke for about eight minutes, no notes, no mike, and was the star of the program.

Shared by Bill Williams, Hampton, Virginia

Students Honoring Teachers at Reunion

Through the turbulent times of segregation and civil rights, there were schools and teachers who made a lasting impression on their students. Risley High School, Brunswick, Georgia, created a fierce pride in its students. The 114 students of the class of 1960 decided to thank the teachers who made a difference in their lives. At their 45th reunion they honored those who showed them a whole new world.

About 15 surviving teachers and coaches attended the event. One teacher commented that the reunion brings her comfort and a sense of accomplishment, knowing the students have gone on to do so well. “It’s rewarding to know that these caring and productive individuals are my students,” she said with emotion.

From a story by Krista Harris in the Brunswick News, Brunswick, Georgia.

Teacher Stars at Reunion

If you are one of the lucky ones, you had a special teacher, someone who inspired and pushed, and maybe even changed your life’s direction. For students at Bartlett Junior High School in South Philadelphia from 1957 to 1959, that teacher was Rose Golden.

“She was our Oskar Schindler,” says Neal Orkin, Ambler, Pennsylvania, a business law professor at Drexel University. “She saved a whole generation of South Philly kids from speaking and writing like Rocky.”

Golden, now 77, lives outside Shreveport, Louisiana, and was thrilled by the kind words, but insists the praise is misdirected. She says, “It was a remarkable class.”

Golden (now Kassab) was an educator for 38 years. “Of all the classes I had, I remember a student or two here and there. But in that class, I remember all of them. It was early in my career. I loved grammar and they just sopped it up.”

“You’re making me feel so good,” said their Mrs. Golden as she was toasted, serenaded and paid homage to all evening. “This is an inspiration to teachers, a reminder to students and a plus for Philadelphia.”

From a story by Murray Dubin in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.