Old friends gathered for the 122nd Saline Alumni Banquet Saturday Night at Liberty School.
The class of 1963 was honored on its 50th anniversary of graduating from Saline High School. About half of the class of 83 was in attendance at the banquet. In all, there were more than 150 at the banquet.
The alumni association also honored Joe Bondie, the class of 1934 graduate who attended with his son Phil (class of 1965) and daughter Jean (class of 1967), and Nancy Niethammer, a longtime alumni association volunteer who passed away this spring.
As always, the alumni association also celebrated a member of the most recent graduating class. Casey Schukow, son of Diane and Paul Schukow, was awarded the $2,000 alumni scholarship.
Schukow, an all-league football player who was highly involved with student groups like SADD, will continue his studies at Hillsdale College. He received a scholarship to play football, too. Schukow couldn’t attend because he was at another engagement, collecting his Jiu Jitsu brown belt. His parents were in attendance.
“I know that all parents feel their children are exceptional. But if you’ve ever met Casey, he’s special. He’ll use this scholarship and make you proud,” Diane Schukow said.
The scholarship goes to a graduate who has at least one parent also graduated from Saline High School.
The banquet was held in the middle of the 50th reunion weekend for the class of 63.
In 1963, the principal of Saline High School was Elmer Houghton, who died four years later after rescuing his daughter on Lake Superior. (Houghton Elementary School was named in his honor). The superintendent of the district was Leo Jensen, after whom Jensen School was named.
Earl Klager was president of the class of 1963. He grew up on the family farm out of town and, like many of his school friends, attended a one-room school house until Saline Area Schools consolidated in 1955. Klager said his class was a little bit rebellious.
“One thing we did was buy paper gowns for graduation,” Klager said. “Because we wanted to be able to keep our graduation gown.”
The decision almost backfired on the students, because the evening of graduation, several inches of rain fell.
“Had those gowns gotten wet, they would have practically melted. But the rain cleared up,” Klager said. “I still have mine in my closet at home.”
While the class of 1963 was rebellious, the class of 2013 was well behaved, according to retiring Saline Area Schools Director of Facilities Doug Bacon.
Bacon noted there was no vandalism, incidents or even senior pranks associated with the Class of 2013.
“They were real duds. They were boring,” Bacon joked. “But that’s the way we like it.”
Bacon said the Class of 2013 was one that will make a mark on the district. Graduate Kelly Hall is raising money to start a fitness trail around the perimeter of the campus in honor of late teacher Mike Price. Fellow graduates Jesse Ouellete are working to install a disk golf course along the trail.
“This class has been outstanding. They are a great bunch of kids and we are very proud of them,” said Bacon, a member of the class of 1971.
The event’s speaker was City of Saline Mayor Brian Marl who, as a member of the class of 2003, was younger the most of the crowd.
Marl surprised some when he said the class of 2013 was 465 strong. Luther Schaible, Salutatorian for the Class of 1948, noted that his class had just 28 graduates.
“I can’t help but wonder what caused the population explosion,” Schaible said. “Maybe I don’t want to know.”
Marl also drew applause from the crowd when he noted Saline was recently named the best place in Michigan to raise kids, and that the high school was ranked fourth best in Michigan. He also highlighted many of the accomplishments of this year’s Hornets athletics teams.
“Saline is an exceptional place. It’s very special in large part because of how wonderful our public schools are, how dedicated parents are, and how involved faculty members are,” Marl said.
Marl called on graduates to continue to work for the betterment of the community.
“When you can, do what you can to continue to make Saline a great place to raise children, start a business and to live in,” he said.