By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Rick Yeager expects one of the largest celebrations in Larned High School history during the Larned All School Reunion scheduled June 7-9.
The origins of the Larned All School Reunion and the Larned Alumni Association started after Yeager had connected with a friend via Facebook.
“We had shared a high school memory on Facebook and that started a huge conversation about Larned High School,” Yeager said. “Soon thereafter, a Facebook page was started dedicated to Larned High School and people were invited to join. Pretty soon, we had more than 500 people who had similar fond memories of their high school days.”
A group first met on Sept. 11, 2011 and eventually the Larned Alumni Association was formed. The Larned Alumni page website is www.larnedalumni.org.
“It’s been exciting to get in touch with graduates I’ve not seen for 30 years,” Yeager said. “It makes you realize how important your hometown is when you relieve some of your childhood memories.”
Larned Alumni Association board members are Cheryl Beckwith, president; Jolene Dinsmore, vice president; Rosa Wilson, secretary; Tracy Eye, treasurer; Rick Yeager, Sergeant at Arms; and at-large members Marilyn Stude and Merilee Galliart. All of the board members volunteer their time.
All School Reunion committee members are Stude, chairman; Yeager, vice chair; Wilson, secretary; and Eye, treasurer. The All School Reunion Committee meets about twice a month.
“The best thing to come from this is the establishment of the Larned Alumni Association,” Yeager said. “Establishing the Larned Alumni Association is something we’re very proud of. Being involved from the ground up has been very gratifying. It has not always been easy, for certain, but in the end it has survived. I believe that it will eventually become an important organization for the community and hopefully like other Alumni Association. will be able to give scholarships to young alumni because those who were given scholarships and gained success will want to help.”
Yeager said two others who have invested a lot of time have been Donna Stejskal, the dinner coordinator; and Carol Carlson, the class representative coordinator, and all-around helper with the webpage.
Planning started for an All School Reunion and the group worked with former Larned Chamber of Commerce Director Courtland Holman to get onto the calendar the same weekend as Santa Fe Trail Days.
“Courtland thought the Larned Reunion would definitely help attendance for Santa Fe Trail Days and they had already planned entertainment and other activities that weekend,” Yeager said. “We asked if we could run in conjunction with Santa Fe Trail Days. We needed assistance.”
The Facebook page for the All Schools Reunion is www.facebook.com/groups/LarnedKansas.LookingBack/
Most Larned High classes had conducted reunions throughout the year in conjunction with a community event. Yeager said a consensus was reached to schedule a comprehensive reunion weekend.
“It was a unanimous idea that we schedule a All School Reunion,” he said. “There was high interest. This is targeted for anyone who attended any Larned school or anyone who had taught or worked at a Larned school. Basically, everyone is invited.”
Yeager said several graduates who live abroad and one foreign exchange student have signed up to attend the All School Reunion.
“The All School Reunion will be fun for the community, but will be an important way to help fund the organization as well,” Yeager said. “Both the Alumni Association and the All School Reunion can only be positive influences on the community of Larned.”
Registration forms for the Larned All School Reunion are available online, or at the Larned Chamber, Farmers Bank and Jordaan Library. A dance is scheduled June 7 and a dinner catered by Wheatland Cafe of Hudson is scheduled June 8. More than 200 people are preregistered.
“We appreciate the Larned Chamber and SFTD Committee for partnering with us,” Yeager said. “We have also received donations from area businesses and individuals and we appreciate that as well.”
The weekend will also feature a street dedication for Larned native Gene Keady, a Hall of Fame basketball coach who worked at Purdue University and Hutchinson Community College.
One of the scheduled concerts is for Jimmy Dee and the Fabulous Destinations from Russell. The 1950s era rock-and-roll band has been performing since 2000 after celebrating the 25th anniversary of the group.
A motorcycle benefit will help raise funds for the Larned Veterans Memorial.
Yeager said it’s likely the next reunion will be scheduled in the near future, depending on interest and attendance.
“It’s a lot of work. But if we can get a basic concept going and get great attendance, we may do it more often,” he said. “We want to have a large data base and make it a tradition. We hope it turns into something special.”