2016 Sugar Grove School Alumni Reunion
Sugar Grove School Alumni gathered for a reunion event over the weekend on August 27, 2016. The event was attended by approximately 200 individuals all having ties to the school over the years. Guests began arriving early at 10:30 AM, parked and lined up at the door with the assistance of Daniel Combs and Tony Pierson. Once the ticketing process began, the line extended out the door and down the sidewalk alongside the building. Everyone who purchased a ticket for the catered meal and book package deal picked up books and wrist bands in the lobby and then made their way either to the gym or cafeteria.
Retro music from the 40s-70s played in the background during the entire event which set the atmosphere of a 60s homecoming dance or gathering. Guests dined in our beautifully decorated dining room (thanks to the creative work of Debbie Combs and Gayla Combs) and enjoyed a catered meal from Four Seasons Bakery. The meal guests of our event requested in earlier months during event planning stages consisted of pork BBQ, slaw, potato salad, baked beans and banana pudding with tea or lemonade.
After our guests dined, they were directed out the back door through the back hallway where a sign on a stand read “Party in the Gym” pointing around the corner. This was a special stop for many of our attendees. A small bulletin board in the hallway was covered in black paper and decorated with laminated photos taken from old yearbooks. These photos were specially selected from the guest list out of Sugar Grove High School’s 20 years of yearbooks spanning 1949-69 and included many of those attending our event. Several people spent some time finding themselves at our photo board before making their way into the back door of the gym to the rest of the party.
The social segment of the event was open to the general public and attended by quite a crowd of people. It was like stepping through a time warp back to yesteryear’s high school homecoming dance.
Beginning at 1 PM, two major previously unadvertised surprises were unveiled by event director Sarah Combs. The first was a presentation projected on the stage consisting of every page from every Sugar Grove High School yearbook. These yearbooks spanned 1949-1969 and illuminated from the stage over the event. The second major unadvertised surprise was the photo booth set up just through the other exit door on the opposite end of the back hallway. Daniel Combs and Tony Pierson graciously provided a professional setup and services so that anyone who wanted to have a photo taken with friends, spouses, class groups, etc. could do so entirely free of charge and have access to unlimited reprints of photos through Sugar Grove School Alumni on Facebook after the event. Additionally, Pierson who hails from Denver, CO and who is a recent new employee at the school provided guided tours to several groups of people when he wasn’t shooting photos. Everyone greatly appreciated this since the school has changed quite a bit in the last 50 years. Several of those attending had not been in the school in recent years and did not know that the old gym upstairs had been turned into the school’s library in the mid 90s.
Among those in attendance who were former employees of the school were Graham Hale, Robert Hutton and Bob Coulthard. Graham brought with him some older Sugar Grove items that had belonged to his wife, Melissa. Melissa was a cook in the cafeteria for many years at the school until she retired in the 90s. He also gave us a 1974 yearbook that he had. This yearbook will be entered into the physical collection maintained by Sarah Combs and Jeff Calfee and has already been digitized for online viewing.
During the social portion of the event, several hundred dollars worth of gifts were given away. Each person attending the event was asked to put their name in the box for our drawings. Those businesses sponsoring our event and providing gifts are listed below. The presentation screen doubled as a teletron for our event–during the giveaways or other speech segments of the event, we placed the speaker on the projection screen pausing the presentation for better visibility.
Lavina Tilson-Gass, author of Plainsong Bible very generously donated copies of her book to those attending the event. In addition to all of the giveaways, good times, presentation, photo booth and conversation, we also featured a rather sizeable display in the gym that consisted of a multitude of old uniforms salvaged from a variety of sources or donated. These items included a 1965 girls varsity basketball uniform, 1970 varsity jacket, shirts, cheerleader uniforms and Robert Hutton’s FFA jacket that was loaned for the day for our display. The class of 1964 donated nearly 200 bottles of water for our event to help beat the heat. The remainder of those bottles left over will be donated to the school for their use.
The trophy case was cleaned and rearranged for this event so that all trophies are visible and all of the high school trophies are on one shelf together. This arrangement was thoroughly enjoyed by many who attended the event.
This event was successful on an epic level and received very positive feedback from those attending along with requests to repeat frequently–and we will!
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