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Shepherdstown Alumni Association celebrates 61st anniversary

By Staff | Jul 5, 2013

Anxious to begin an evening of shared reminiscences, graduates of Shepherdstown High School entered the banquet room at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn, searching for “our table” with the class year reservation sign standing proudly at its center and fro the familiar faces of classmates unseen for many years Guests arrived at the tables, their eyes searching the faces of those already seated. Flickers of recognition became wide-eyed surprise, smiles brightened and turned to laughter; the years rolled away and thoughts and conversations slipped back to earlier times when the little high school of 350 or so students gave those entering its doors the education and skills to fulfill their dreams. It was the first Saturday in June, the annual date for the celebration of the birth for the Shepherdstown High School Alumni Association. Sixty-one years later, the organization is still going strong as 200 alumni and their guests turned out for the 2013 party.

In preparation for the buffet dinner, Thomas Banks, association co-president (1950) called the gathering to order and spoke briefly of a time (1925) when the high school classes were held in McMuraran Hall on the corner of N. King and German streets. The high school building, currently the middle school facility, opened in 1930 with the first graduating class leaving in 1931. In 1972, the building’s years as a high school ended with grades 10-12 moving to the new Jefferson High School.

Vice president Zach Fleming (1962) presented the classes in attendance with responses from several. Barbara Knott Nickes (1948) told of 20 classmates who graduated that year with a cheerleader squad formed and boys allowed in the school chorus. Sandra Byers Kiser (1967) mentioned birds in the building and closeness of her class.

The flowers at the podium were offered in remembrance of those classmates who had died wince the 2012 gathering. The deceased included: Albert F. Kave (1932), Margaret Lowe Binns (1934), Howard Kenneth Daniels (1934), Elizabeth Myers Jones (1937), Charles W. Osbourn, Jr. (1940), Allene Small Trabert (1950), Patricia Ann Boyd Watson (1952), Thelma Louise White Painter (1954), John F. Hughes Koven (1955), Robert H. French (1957), Larry W. Osbourn (1962), Gerald Stum (1966), Douglas N. Staubs (1959), Suzette M. Snyder (1970), J. Kenneth Rentch (faculty) and Jack Booth (faculty).

The Mary Hartzell Dobbins Outstanding Alumnus Award, honoring the woman who was the school guidance counselor and an instructor for manyyears, is presented each year to an alumnae or alumni who has an outstanding record of service and achievement. The 2013 recipient was 1950 graduate Thomas Banks. Mr. Banks graduated from Shepherdstown elementary and high schools. In high school, he was active in sports, cheerleading, choir and attended Boy’s State. He delivered newspapers and worked in Boswell’s Store. Enrolled at Shepherd College, he earned a speech degree and was the “Voice of Shepherd,” the school radio station. WFTR-Front Royal, Va., Radio was his frist post-college job. In the Army, he became a cryptology expert– a coder and decoder. The next 21 years, he was director of educational TV in California. Since retiring, Mr. Banks has been active in church and volunteer activities. He and his wife, Rae Banks, have been co-presidents of the SHS Alumni Association for several years. The 2012 award recipient, Mary Lee Blue, made the presentation.

Scholarships from the association were available to qualifying high school graduates. Three young people were honored with the presentations made by Mr. Fleming. Jorden C. Hose, the grandson of Donna Small Nakopoulos (1960) and a graduate of North Hagerstown High School, will attend Florida Atlatnic University in pursuit of a degree in Business Administartion. Tori Weller, the granddaughter of Raymond Weller (1967) and Reba Ryamn Weller (1969) and a graduate of Jefferson High School. Will attend Shepherd University, majoring in psychology/counseling. Samantha Yates, great-granddaughter of Dr. Bill Wanger and Beth Yates, and a graduate of Shepherdstown Junior High School, will pursue a major in English/Secondary Eduacation at McDaniels College.

During the annual business meeting, organization secretary Margaret Rose Peterson presented the 2012 minutes and reminded all to keep addresses current. Treasurer Wayne Goodrich reported a healthy bank balance.

Selected for two-year terms on the board of directs were Richard Blue (1962), president; Zach Fleming (1962), vice president; Margaret Rose Orndorff Peterson (1966), secretary; Wayne Goodrich (1967), treasurer; Ann Hunter (1070), board members; Donna Weister Fleming (1967), board member; John Lucas (1958), board member; Tom Banks (1950), board member and Judy Strider Fadeley, liaison, SMS. Current board members were thanked for their service.

With the “Rah, Rah, Rah!! Sis Boom Bah’s” of the school song, the traditional ending for the evening of memories and assurances to “keep in touch: echoing from the papered dining room walls, some folks began their long journeys home while others lingered for that last “remember when” and promises of “next year.”