STANTON — It has been 50 years since Stanton Union Schools and Sheridan Rural Agricultural Schools consolidated, creating Central Montcalm High School.
Before that, on the sports fields, at least, the two were bitter rivals.
Despite this fact, the merger of the two schools came off without a hitch, thanks in part to Principal Orval “Tom” Corner’s insistence on a social hour during the school day, during which students from both schools had a chance to get to know each other better.
The transition included the merging of those rival sports teams, establishing new homecoming traditions, scheduling joint proms, dances and graduation ceremonies and selecting a new school mascot — the Green Hornet — which endures to this day.
Even the school song had to be rewritten to accommodate the two student bodies, a task that fell to Class of 1964 senior Karen Sampson.
Fifty years later, many of those friendships created in the merging of those two schools still remain. This weekend, alumni from Central Montcalm’s first graduating class will get together to celebrate those friendships on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the high school.
According to 50th class reunion organizer Bruce Hoople, response to the event has been enthusiastic, to say the least.
“We’ve typically had a reunion every 10 years,” Hoople said. “And we did one at 45, but the older you get the more often you want to have them. This year, being our 50th, we wanted to do something a little extra, a little special.”
Toward that end, for the past year, the reunion’s eight-person committee has been putting forth a “huge” effort to contact every class member from that first graduating class. Using Facebook, email and other social media, organizers have managed to locate all but one of their former classmates.
“We’ve been running down people since last June,” Hoople said. “It was very difficult to find some, but we found everyone except one guy.”
To commemorate the 50th reunion, organizers have created an “updated” yearbook, a sort of “where are they now” look at the Class of 1964, along with a cookbook made up of recipes submitted by alumni. Both books will be available for perusal at the various reunion events.
These include a wine and cheese get-together on Friday, a potluck on Saturday and a breakfast at the Brickyard restaurant in Stanton on Sunday morning. By spreading the event out over three days, organizers hope to accommodate the schedules of former classmates, some of whom are coming in from out of state.
Though most of the memories revisited during the reunion will no doubt focus on the days following the joining of the two schools, at least one story is sure to resurface from the days before the merger, just as it has at nearly every previous reunion — the Red Bull trophy and its current whereabouts.
The Red Bull was the brainchild of football coaches Jake Helms, who coached Stanton’s team, and Sheridan coach Bill Maskill. Each year, the team which won the rivalry between the two schools got possession of the trophy for that year.
After the merger, however, the trophy just sort of vanished. Hoople and other alumni are hoping the trophy will turn up either during, or shortly after, the reunion gathering.
Administrators at Central Montcalm High School have agreed to display the Red Bull, should it in fact be located.
“It was kind of a big deal, back in the day,” Hoople said. “There are a lot of pictures of it in the Stanton annual, not so many in Sheridan’s; I think Stanton won it more than Sheridan did.”
Organizers anticipate about 100 alumni and spouses will show up over the event’s three days, based on pre-registrations.
If the Red Bull also should put in an appearance, so much the better, Hoople added.
Call Hoople at (480) 684-0300 for more information about this weekend’s reunion.