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Mega Reunion is a confluence of classes

September 19, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Who says high school reunions must be for one class at a time?

Not Linda Bowman Ebersole of Williamsport High School's class of 1979.

While working on her class's 30-year reunion, she thought about her friends from other classes. The reunion's parameters grew: Graduates from three years before 1979 and three years after also were welcome.

That didn't work, either; too many people just out of range wanted to be included.

That's how Saturday's Williamsport High School Mega Reunion, for class years 1936 to 1990, was born. Eight hundred seventy-nine people signed up, out of what Bowman Ebersole figured was a maximum of maybe 6,200, not factoring in those who have died.

Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center was filled with music, balloons of Wildcat blue and white, and memories.

Early on, a mass of people gathered near the cash bar and the food table. The event promised "traveling" food, fit for walking and mingling.

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Old friends ran into each other -- sometimes after scanning name tags, just to be sure.

Dorothy Martin Kaetzel, of the class of 1958, recognized a 1957 graduate she hadn't seen in 50 years. She said she knew right away who he was, but she covered her name tag to make him guess.

Her daughter, Kelly Kaetzel Faith of the class of 1985, also spotted classmates. The women said their husbands, also Williamsport graduates, stayed home.

Williamsport High School graduating classes tend to be in the dozens rather than the hundreds, so class years aren't dividing lines.

"Everyone in school knew everyone else ..." said Bill Spangler of the class of 1965, a Vietnam War veteran and Mack Trucks retiree. "It was one big happy family."

His wife, Jean Spangler, said when she graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 1966, her class had 512 people.

"We couldn't do this," she said.

Dwayne Flook of the class of 1979, who works in overseas shipping, said he didn't know what to expect, but he thought Saturday's confluence of classes worked well.

Flook's wife, Carrie, graduated from South Hagerstown High School in 1979. They dated, broke up and reconnected many years later.

Rusty Stoner, of the class of 1983, agreed that Williamsport students commonly were friends with older and younger classes -- for example, him and his girlfriend, Lynne Gladhill of the class of 1991.

Stoner said his best memories of high school are friendships and sports. He played football and wrestled.

Roda Helmintoller, of the class of 1952, named several sports she played -- basketball, softball, baseball, soccer, field ball.

Her cousin, Mona Stevens of the class of 1947, another athlete, said the girls were tomboys.

Stevens, who later taught at South Hagerstown High School, said Saturday's mixed reunion was nice for older classes with few graduates left.

Of course, for many, that meant trying to recognize old friends after decades and meeting new ones.

Pointing to his name tag, Dwayne Flook said, "These are helpful."

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