The Ela-Vernon High School class of 1961 celebrated its 50-year class reunion this past weekend with more than 70 of the 134 graduates attending.
The five reunion committee members — Betty Voras Paldauf, Sharon Ponzio Wright, Gaye Lyckberg Boland, Liz Setlak DiCianni and Dottie Dearie Pohlman — decided to make it a reunion weekend instead of just one night.
“Everyone always says they wish they had more time to catch up and visit with everyone,” said Paldauf. “So we planned an entire weekend.”
On Sept. 23, everyone was invited to a dinner at Giordano’s Pizzeria in Lake Zurich to kick start the weekend. Then at 11 a.m. Sept. 24, the alumni met at what is now May Whitney Elementary School and toured the older part of the building that once was Ela-Vernon High School.
“It seems a lot smaller to me,” said Pohlman.
May Whitney Principal Lettie Eckovich was there opening doors to old classrooms and offering what history she knew about the school.
“It doesn’t seem like 50 years and I’m glad to see the school is still in use,” said DiCianni.
The former classmates tried to remember what classes where held in which classrooms and remarked about how much the school had changed.
They ended up in the gymnasium, where some members of the former basketball team decided to shoot some hoops.
Boland recalled her memory of when everyone left class to go stand on Midlothian Road in front of the old Ela-Vernon High School and watch as John F. Kennedy drove by as part of his campaign for president of the United States.
“I had totally forgotten about John F. Kennedy coming by until I looked out the window just now and remembered,” said Boland.
“I remember he said to me, ‘Are you going to vote for me?’ and I said, ‘I’m not old enough yet,’ and he said ‘You can re-elect me,’” said Pohlman.
At the dinner, the group had a chance to page through some old yearbooks and look at pictures of former classmates put on display for everyone.
Lake Zurich Mayor — and 1964 Ela-Vernon High School graduate — Suzanne Branding offered a proclamation to the Ela-Vernon High School class of 1961, making them all "honorary citizens of the village of Lake Zurich and entitled to all rights, privileges, and honors pertaining thereto."
“I was a freshman while you all were seniors, so you were my idols,” said Branding.
She also noted in the proclamation some interesting facts about 1961:
- Popular songs were Chubby Checker’s Pony Time, The Shirelles' Will You Love Me Tomorrow and Henry Mancini’s Moon River
- Popular movies were West Side Story, The Parent Trap and Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- The average income was $5,315
- A gallon of gas was 27 cents
- Average new car cost was $2,850 and a new house was $12,500
People traveled to the reunion from all over the country: Colorado, Maryland, Florida, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Virginia and Massachusetts.
“We have a time-share in Door County, Wis., so we are in the Illinois area at least twice a year,” said Dave Salmen, who traveled from Arkansas with his wife, Gail, who graduated from Ela-Vernon High School in 1964.
“It was great to come for the reunion because I get to also catch up with old friends,” said Gail. “A lot of ladies in my class married guys from the class of ’61.”
The class of 1961 posed for a group picture and carried on with their evening of dinner and drinks.
On Sept. 25, the group took a trip over to downtown Long Grove and shopped. They concluded their weekend with a lunch at the Village Tavern.
“It was a great turnout and everyone really enjoyed themselves," said Pohlman.