Alumni association’s annual banquet reunites old friends
For many people, the least-expected place to see a high school graduate is back in high school. But for graduates whose cap and gown days are decades behind them, gathering at their alma mater was cause for celebration.
About 60 alumni and guests gathered in the Eudora High commons Sunday for the alumni association's annual banquet and business meeting. Guests dined on a spread of potluck fare laid out below a header stone, incorporated into the school's design, that once stood over the original 1918 building where many of the guests attended.
"It was new when we were in there," Edna Zillner, 1924 EHS graduate, said. "We just thought we had the world by the tail when we were in that building."
Zillner, who represented the oldest class present, said that working at a downtown department store after graduation allowed her to recognize alumni from younger classes who stopped by the shop after school.
Zillner's brother, Paul Sommer, 1928 EHS graduate, reminisced about his days on the Eudora basketball and football teams.
"I was the quarterback and captain," he said. "I had my choice of girls."
Sommer and Zillner, from older classes, were in the majority of alumni who greeted each other with hugs and chatted.
Having been away from Eudora for 31 years meant that Maxine McCabria and her husband weren't always familiar with younger graduates.
"We are still associating people with whose children they are," McCabria, former alumni association president, said.
Alumni may have recognized banquet performer Sarah Abel, EHS junior, by grandparents Jerry and Carl Abel, EHS alumni. Sarah's parents, Anita and Carlie Abel, are also EHS alumni.
"It's a little more special when the ties are like that," Jerry, alumni association treasurer, said of her granddaughter's ballet and lyrical dance performances.
The program also included the passing of a key from the 50th-anniversary class of 1951 to the class of 1952. Each year, ribbons in the class' colors are added to the key.
Raymond Kurtz represented the class of 1951. He said nothing about high school was much different then, although he remembers that flooding made it difficult for him to get to EHS from his rural home.
The 55th-anniversary class of 1946 was also honored. According to the yearbook, the 1946 unofficial school mascot was a small dog named Puddles, and five sets of twins attended the school.
Although a few representatives of classes after the 1950s attended the banquet, the class of 1978 was the most recent class represented.
Lois Mersmann, 1965 EHS graduate, was one of few guests from a more recent class.
"As old as I am, I'm one of the younger people here," she said. "My parents both graduated from Eudora, so maybe that's a draw."
At the business meeting following Sunday's dinner, Mersmann was elected alumni association president.
McCabria said she hoped having a younger president would encourage younger graduates to attend.
Jerry said that although the event was a highlight for many older graduates, cultivating younger participants should be a priority.
The banquet tradition began in 1908, and Jerry said she hopes it will continue.
"We've tried to keep it going," Jerry Abel said. "We don't want this to die out."
Erinn Barcomb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org