With just three weeks left until the 100th birthday celebration of our alma mater, more than 300 former students and spouses from across the USA are packing their bags to come home to join in the festivities.
The self-appointed committee of former grads continue to meet and iron out details for the celebration which includes a self-guided tour of the school; the 15th annual WI Alumni covered-dish picnic, reservations for which are not required; a banquet dinner at Robert C. Byrd High School where attendees will have an opportunity to view the “WI memorabilia room”; and a presentation in the school’s theater which will feature Al Cox, the “Voice of the Hilltoppers”, as master of ceremonies.
Also slated for the evening’s program are music by Benji DeFazio, who attended WI Middle School; a performance by the WI Middle School Show Choir; and video of the school’s history by Tim Cork, recognition of Mr. and Mrs. Washington Irving, i.e., the oldest graduates (male and female) in attendance; a tribute to veterans; and a special tribute to one person deemed to have had an influence on students across more decades than perhaps any other.
Although reservations for the banquet are closed, you can still take the tour, attend the picnic and the theater program. Please bring a covered dish for the picnic.
Plans for a Wall of Fame were scuttled due to the lack of submissions.
In addition to these activities, a number of classes have scheduled get-togethers for the weekend. Among them is the Class of 1959 who will gather at the home of classmate Larry Martino on Friday evening, August 22.
The seed for the birthday celebration was sown by retired Washington Irving Middle School principal, Tom Tucker. As some of our readers will recall, a group of Clarksburg WI graduates got together in October 2013 to work on an event. A June date was chosen; however, that date met with a number of obstacles including very few responses to the initial inquiry for reservations.
Rather than cancel the event entirely, 1959 grads Joy Gregoire DeFazio and Carolyn Pinella Warne suggested that the birthday celebration be
combined with the Annual WIHS Picnic which is now in its 15th year. Others in attendance - Jim Campbell, Brad and Sharon Underwood, Tom and Donna Elsey and Coach Al Castellana – agreed.
The picnic, started in 1999 by DeFazio and Phyllis Fittro Brown (Class of ’59) and spearheaded 2003-2013 by Sharyn Cottrill McGahan (Class of ’59), has been a successful annual event. Members of that class including Paula Brasseur Riley, Ronnie and Jeanne Werner and Becky Werner, Charles Burkhammer, Roleta Smith Meredith, Judy Daugherty Kimler, Brown, Warne and DeFazio have continued to help along with some members of other classes.
With the date now settled upon, more meetings were arranged and publicity began to be distributed. Out of these meetings came the final working committee for the celebration. In addition to Campbell, Castellana, DeFazio and Warne, and the Underwoods and the Elseys, Jerry Reed, Mike Fresa, Ellen Colvin Condron, Mary Rose Axton, and former principal Sam Scalapio completed the loosely woven committee.
Campbell, who had already volunteered to provide music for the celebration, gave permission to use his WI Reunion post office box, PO Box 411, Clarksburg, WV 26301, as the mailing address for the celebration. Reed was named treasurer with Fresa being his second on the checking account.
Information about the upcoming celebration has been distributed not only through this newsletter, but also by the website, wicentennial.com; Facebook page Washington Irving School Centennial Celebration, Clarksburg, WV; and articles in local newspapers.
There’s an old saying, “It’s all over but the shouting!” While that is not quite true, a lot of work has been done. . . but a lot is yet to be done before we gather together on August 23rd in Clarksburg, WV. Hope to see you there!