Lee High Class of '64

50th Lee High Reunion Comments

by Anne Meckstroth Menter

Reunion Committee

Anne shares her thoughts about the Class of '64

August 30, 2014

First I want to thank Bill and Jo – especially Jo-- and their committee for their time and commitment to make this 50th Reunion happen. 

There have been monumental world changes in the 50 years since our graduation in 1964 - and thank heaven the Dairy Rite and Gypsy Hill Park remain!  And Woodrow Wilson’s lovely birthplace!  Thank you Jody for the tour this morning.

Our hometown looks great!  The historical renovations are impressive.   According to Smithsonian Magazine, Staunton is the 10th best small town in the country.  But, of course, we know it’s our #1.

Most of us started Lee High in 1959 when we were entering 8th grade. We had the privilege of being together as a class for 5 years.  The world officially designated us as the first year of the Baby Boom Generation - that is, born in 1946.  (I don’t often share that date with people.)  Only 4 months into our 5 years at Lee we entered an exciting new decade -- the 60’s!   The Boomer Years.   The last age of innocence.   The age of the Generation Gap. 
 Our 5 years at Lee paralleled many news-worthy events, world- wide, nation-wide and Lee High-wide.  Tonight, let’s omit mentioning those tragic, world-shattering events we had to experience, and highlight several events that brought joy and pride during our high school years.

Our generation was the first to be raised with TV.   On Sept. 26, 1960, the first televised presidential debate took place between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy.  This televised debate changed the playing field and the outcome of the election - and future elections.    The onset of a new media’s overwhelming influence in our lives was already taking shape.

Kennedy was the youngest person ever elected to the Presidency.  In January 1961, when we were freshmen, he said, “The torch has been passed to a new generation”.  We were challenged to, “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country. “

The Peace Corps was established that year to promote world peace and friendship, and to help people in other countries build better lives. 

The Space Race went into full gear during our high school years.  In the spring of our freshman year Alan Shepherd became the 1st American in space (May 5, 1961).  And 20 days later JFK said, “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth."

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo Program that began in our early days at Lee High met that goal when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first to walk on the moon.  No other nation has yet repeated this feat.

Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream” speech In August of 1963 – about the time our football team was beginning practice for our senior season, and the State Class 1B Championship.  That season would include the memorable dedication of our new football stadium on October 18th.  Score: Lee High 25 Harrisonburg 6.    Didn’t we have fun cheering for or playing on our teams - which always seemed to be at the top of the standings.  And those bus rides to away games.  Such wonderful memories!  Thank you Charlie for your important role in making sure the stadium lockers were renovated - and dedicated last year. 

Right after we graduated, in July of 1964, LBJ signed into law The Civil Rights Act.

Music was important. Rock and Roll and Beatlemania evolved into a culture and an attitude.  We had American Bandstand on TV, and more importantly, Tri Hi Y parties, school dances and the WTON Record Hop at the Armory on Saturday nights.  There we could dance and hang out and be with young people from all over the area.  And then after the last dance to “The End” (At the end of a rainbow by Earl Grant) – we might drive around the Dairy Rite to see who was there.  What a life! 

There are so many things to remember – we haven’t mentioned fashion and hairstyles, cars, Powder Puff Football, The Variety Show, the Musicals, the Yearbook, The Record, Forensics, our teachers and typical school days - or food – such as the wonderful Italian food at Mary’s Italian Restaurant. (Note: Mary’s Restaurant was owned by the mother of our English teacher, Mrs. Martin, who was present at our Reunion Dinner.)

 We truly had a fine class.  When we graduated, we knew we probably would not see each other much as we moved into the next phase of our lives.  But here we are tonight --- 50 years later.  The spirit and camaraderie that this class has always demonstrated is being demonstrated here again. How fortunate we are to be together now.  How fortunate we are to have been together as a class at Lee High.

We are living in a brand new world of communication -- Instant information and connections that we can access whenever we want. The Internet, social media and smart phones have changed communication and culture throughout the world.  While I personally have mixed emotions about some of these technology-driven culture changes, one of the benefits this provides us - is that we don’t have to wait for 5 years to be in touch with each other.  We now have each other’s emails - and, if we desire, we can easily access Facebook connections, or blogs, or send a text.  Let’s take advantage of these tools to maintain the bond that this class has always achieved.

Let’s take the opportunity this evening, with the remaining time we have together, to relax and visit and get re-acquainted.  To reminisce about the fun and the great times we had at Lee High – and the privilege we had of receiving an excellent education, from wonderful teachers, in a beautiful high school on a hill, in a gorgeous hometown, among a family of caring classmates.

It is wonderful to be here with you. I am so grateful to be part of the Lee High Class of 1964. I know each of you share this feeling. Let’s do our best to keep close as a class and as friends, and continue to share our growing up together.  Thanks for the memories!  Happy 50th! 

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