See ya next year Alumni Banquet

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It’s that time of year again…alumni banquet season. I love this season for the sheer fact of getting together with people whom I may have nothing in common except for the bond of graduating from Salem High School.

I had a great high school experience and I’m sorry for those who did not. I made life lasting friendships and even snagged my husband (even though I didn’t realize it at the time) when he was a mere 15 years old.

This year’s banquet was fun as usual at the “rowdy” table. Years separate those who gather at the back corner table but we still enjoy each other’s company. My group includes fellow 1984 graduates Kelly Newby Coats and Jennifer Weaver Martin and of course, my husband Duane, class of 1985.

Kelly’s sister, Kristy Newby Busher and her group of 1990 graduates usually join us as does her son (noticeably absent this year due to a work commitment in North Dakota) and his friends, her “adopted” children. This year the young ones celebrated their 5-year anniversary of graduating from good ole’ SHS. They were the youngest attendees with the exception of the 2017 classmates and garnered a round of applause from our table. We are trying to instill good alumni banquet etiquette on them.

Also near to the back table are the Hardin siblings, Donna, Linda and Mike. Donna tries to keep order but more often than not finds that a hard task. They were there also this year in support of their nephew, Jared Hardin, who accepted admittance into the alumni association on behalf of the class of 2017. Jared’s dad, Melvin, also class of 1984 and mom, Leann (a West Washington graduate), also came to support their son.

Jamie Richardson, now a celebrity after his stint as emcee during the 2016 alumni banquet, is always in close proximity as was his sister Angie whose daughter is also a member of the 2017 graduating class.

This year I also got to visit with my first boss after college, Mary Kay Fultz. Sometimes the alumni banquet is the only place I see her during the year. I also got a hug from former teacher, Diane Ratliff. Kelly and I were in her first class at Bradie Shrum, third grade. That is where our friendship began many, many years ago. And no matter what Kristy and Stephanie Sease Sabens says, we were her favorites.

I also always look forward to my friendly greeting from honorary SHS alumni, Morris Rosenbaum. He was the superintendent when I was in school. Other honorary alums that I always enjoy seeing are former Leader co-worker, Cecil Smith and Duane’s former football coach, Jim Ralston.

And I can't forget my brief visit with the oldest alumni at the banquet, Carolyn Haag. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with her. She was one of my teachers in middle school and is a fellow Tri-Kappa sister. I hope to only look and feel as good as she does at 97. Yes, I said 97!

The end of the banquet came quickly this year for Duane and me as torrential rains had us running for the door, rushing home to try to ease Bailey’s fear of storms.

One thing I will take away from this year’s banquet was an unplanned recognition by Christy Weaver Henry.

She took a minute at the end of the night, to acknowledge that although she didn’t have a child in the graduating class, her oldest niece, Elizabeth Weaver was a member of the class of 2017. She got choked up with pride while telling how SHS was rooted into Elizabeth’s life.

Christy was a part of the 25-year honored class, as was her sister in law, Tracy Stephenson Weaver who was there with her husband, David Weaver (’88). Christy’s brother-in-law, Elizabeth’s uncle, JD Martin was in the 50-year honor class. In addition, aunt Jennifer Martin (‘84) was in attendance, mom Amy Oakes Weaver (‘91) and Elizabeth’s proud grandparents David and Paula Weaver. Elizabeth’s dad, Jeff, class of ’90 was missing due to work obligations.

Christy’s Salem High School lineage runs deep and her pride was evident as she rattled off names of those in attendance who now shared something special with one of the newest alumni members, Elizabeth.

This is one reason I love the alumni of Salem High School.

See ya next year, alumni and rowdy table crowd.

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