The first class to graduate from St. James Senior High School celebrated its 50-year reunion over the weekend.
Barb Broughton Mays, who lives in Maple Grove and who served as chairwoman of the reunion organization committee, brought the festivities into focus when she described the beginnings of St. James High.
"The new school was completed in 1961," she said. "So it was born in 1961. The school celebrated its first birthday in 1962, about the same time we were graduating. So the school is celebrating its 50th year, the same as our class."
The St. James community dedicated the new high school in the fall of 1962, incorporating that celebration into the school's Homecoming events. The student body implored its football team to "Cage the Cats," which the gridders did, defeating the Hutchinson Tigers 12-6. Led by co-captains Al Graupman and Clarence St. John and by new head coach Marv Gunderson, the football team went undefeated in 1962, compiling a 9-0 record.
The reunion over the past weekend included an informal get-together Friday evening at the Hickory Inn with hors d'oeuvres provided by Merle and Pat Anderson, a breakfast Saturday morning at the Hometown Café, and a banquet Saturday evening at the Eagles Club. Merle Anderson, who now lives in Butterfield, served as president for the class of 1962.
Curtis "Pete" Nelson, Excelsior, and Jane Renner Paulsen, Burnsville, served as emcees for a program at the Saturday evening banquet.
A lot of memories and a lot of information surfaced during the evening. For instance, Marian Olson Bonkowske, finally found out which three classmates had been stealing watermelons from her family's garden. Classmates heard that Pete Nelson's father, Leonard, longtime president of the First National Bank in St. James, created clever limericks with the help of Thelma Hagen, the mother of Roger Hagen, who lives in Marina on St. Croix. And many classmates heard for the first time that Janelle Luther Thill, who had been crowned a dairy princess, eventually discovered that she was lactose-intolerant.
Class members also exchanged some intriguing senior moments.
Ruth Moody Tsu of Hood River, Oregon, for example: "One day when I was looking for my cell phone, my granddaughter said, 'Wouldn't it be helpful if the phone was attached to a wall?' "
Or Barb Broughton Mays, who told about using her home phone to call her cell number "to find my cell phone, then answering my cell phone when I find it, and I answer it because I think someone is calling me!"
Or Mona Sorensen Aumann of Ripon, Wisconsin, saying she can't always keep times straight. "I started playing alto sax in a community band last fall. I drove to Oshkosh West High School for my first summer concert, arriving at 6:30 p.m. To my surprise, the band already was playing the first number. I quietly slipped into my spot. Oops!"
Page 2 of 2 - Mona Sorensen Aumann, by the way, who played the saxophone in high school, received the coveted Sousa Award in 1962 as one of the school's outstanding band members. Other outstanding band members in 1962 were Carol Johnson and Sandy Sellstedt.
In the class of 1962, Jane Renner was named the Outstanding Senior Girl and Don Burger was named the Outstanding Senior Boy.
The class also named a slate of Ten Outstanding Students: Carol Johnson, Diane Fastenau, Mary E. Klaras, Diane Bentdahl, Ruth Moody, Mona Sorensen, Jane Renner, David Sternberg, Janice Devens and Russ Warling.
Allan Lee, who lives at Hanska and who served as treasurer for the organizational committee, said some of the funds raised for the 50-year reunion will be donated to the District 840 Foundation in St. James. Lee said the class hopes to see some of those funds used to help provide more trees for the school grounds, trees that will be planted in honor of 22 classmates who have died.