All-school reunion will go on

Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor


Fourth of July 2020 is looking like it will be a banging good time, thanks to Tracy Olson, class of 1986, and Jennifer Smith, class of 1989, who have been working hard for months to make sure that the Newcastle High School All-School Reunion does not go away. 

Back in March, Olson told the News Letter Journal that she had read in the paper that the reunion was most likely not going to happen and that she just couldn’t see it end. 

“It is one of my favorite events, and I didn’t want to see it end,” Olson said. 

Smith cited similar reasons for wanting to see the event that brings former students of Newcastle High School together for a few days every five years. 

“I feel the reunion is a wonderful tradition that was started the year I graduated from high school,” Smith said. “I have attended each one since and was disappointed when I heard that it was possibly not going to be held in 2020. So I was happy to jump at the chance to help when Tracy contacted me.” 

In previous years, Smith said, the turnout has been exceptional thanks to the previous committee headed by Ann McColley. She said that she and Olson hope to continue to bring classmates and teachers of all ages back to town, although the schedule of events will look different from that of previous years. The duo noted that they also have no plans to continue the “big book” listing every graduate’s name, address and information, saying that it is too expensive and time consuming for them to take on. 

“We have no intentions of doing the book. If someone else would like to do that we are more than happy to let them,” Smith said at a recent meeting with class representatives. 

“We are trying to get away from collecting money. We don’t want to do that with the whole school; it just doesn’t work. We have to change some things, and if you have ideas, we will listen to them,” Olson added. 

Smith and Olson have decided to not have a formal registration at the school leading up to the weekend’s events. And they plan to have each class representative take care of his or her specific graduating class. 

“We are trying to simplify it. It was just going to go away, and we are taking it on with the hopes that each class representative will gather their people, get them information, name tags, et cetera,” Olson said. 

During the meeting, they provided a tentative agenda for the class representatives and other people representing specific events. The reunion will begin on Friday, July 3, with a Newcastle High School Booster Club golf tournament at the Weston County Country Club. Times have not been determined for the event, which will act as a fundraiser for the club. According to Jon Tidyman, the organizers hope to have 18 to 22 teams. 

Tidyman said that many details, including the entry fee, are still undecided but that the tournament will probably be a general four-person scramble with pin prizes. He added that they plan to cap the number of teams allowed to play to help “keep people moving and get through in a timely manner.” 

In 2019, according to Tidyman, the tournament was held in August, but the booster club board has decided to move the annual fundraiser to July to coincide with the reunion. Tidyman said that more details will be firmed up as the board chips away at the details but that he would keep the organizers of the reunion up-to-date. 

Capping off the evening of the July 3 will be two musical events and the hanging of Diamond L Slim Clifton, put together by the Weston County Arts Council. 

Olson said that both music events, one at the Flying V and the other at the Weston County Senior Center, will have a cover charge and that details are still in the works. The same goes for the reenactment of the hanging, according to Tom Voss. 

Kicking off the Fourth of July will be a parade, similar in scope to those of the past two years. It will begin at the high school and wind its way up Main Street, leading into the speaking reenactments that will be headed up by the Weston County Arts Council, Voss said. 

News Letter Journal’s news editor, Alexis Barker, who is the contact person for the parade, said that the parade will begin at 11 a.m. with class cars or floats being judged on the best “school spirit.” 

An entry fee of at least $20 or donations will be charged for the parade, with proceeds going to the prizes for the best floats and the Newcastle Alumni Scholarship Fund that has previously been funded by the All School Reunion. 

After the parade, an “all-school gathering” will be held at the Weston County Fairgrounds. In previous years, Olson said, the event had been a barbecue but that they are staying away from a one-menu-fits-all style of event this year. 

Food vendors will be parked at the fairgrounds, Olson said, so that attendees can access what they want to eat whenever they are ready. Smith and Olson also hope to host a “teachers’ gathering” for current and past teachers to visit with students in a designated area. 

Also planned is the auction that has helped to support the Newcastle Alumni Scholarship Fund. Class of 2006 graduate Cassie Hayman has agreed to help organize the auction with the hopes of having each class donate a basket to the auction. Details are still in the works on this specific event. 

“Saturday between the fairgrounds and the dance would be a good time to have individual class parties,” Olson said. “There will be free time between 3 and 7 p.m.” 

She said that this activity will be up to the discretion of class representatives who are expected to do their own planning. 

At 7 p.m. on July 4, Nate Smith and the Caddywhompus Band will set up on Main Street for a street dance and music event leading up to the fireworks show put on by the Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department. The event will be free and the planners  hope to have some type of intermission during the fireworks show. 

The street dance and fireworks will be the last scheduled event for the reunion. Sunday, July 5, Olson said, will be another opportunity to get individual classes together before people start to depart. No formal events are planned.

Smith and Olson said that they are still looking for food vendors for the gathering at the fairgrounds and are open to ideas for safe driving options from the Flying V into town on the evening of July 3.


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