CLARKS SUMMIT – On Sept. 12, over 50 Abington Heights High School (AHHS) alumni of the graduating class of 1965 gathered at their former high school home, now Clarks Summit Elementary, to reunite after 50 years.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have the class here,” said Abington Heights School District Superintendent Michael Mahon.
During the event, Mahon welcomed the Class of 1965, accepted two flags from one of the school’s graduates, and lead the tour of the building with Clarks Summit Elementary Principal Mark Wyandt.
Class of 1965 member Linda Sutphin was emotional as she presented an American Flag and a representative Firefighter Flag that were flown at Forward Operating Base, Fenty, Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan Aug. 23 to Clarks Summit Elementary School on behalf of the Class of 1965. Sutphin’s son Eric, who is also an AHHS alumnus, is currently a contract firefighter crew chief at various bases in Afghanistan, according to Sutphin.
“Let all who look upon (the flags) see them as a symbol of bravery, a standard of protection, and a promise to remember those who gave the greatest sacrifice,” Sutphin read from the flag’s Certificate of Authenticity. Sutphin said she contacted her son in Afghanistan to get the flags to donate on behalf of the class when she found out the reunion would include a tour of the old school.
“We’re honored to have this,” Wyandt said at the presentation.
After 50 years, class communicator Guy Ehler said the most important reason to reunite with classmates was simply to reconnect.
“We hoped to enliven the past,” Ehler said of the reunion. He and a reunion committee from the Class of 1965 planned an entire weekend of events from mixers, to the school tour, a football game, dinner and brunch. According to Ehler, over 80 class members of the remaining 179 attended various events during the reunion. Class members came from as far as Montana, Las Vegas, and Texas to attend.
Ehler moved to Clarks Green in 1960 and said that the area always resonated with him. “I consider the Abingtons my home. I spent my formative years here, and everything good and bad that happens in high school happened here.”
Diane Audet only spent her senior year at AHHS and graduated with the Class of 1965, but still came from Connecticut for the reunion.
“I made such a connection with this town and the people in it, I wanted to come back,” she said. Her father worked for General Electric, so Audet said it was like being in the service because her family moved around a lot. She said it was nerve-wracking to move and attend AHHS just for her senior year but that “everyone made it easy.”
Delbert Thomas, who arranged the school tour for the reunion, pointed out the Class of 1965 also had a lot of opportunity to meet new people.
“It’s interesting because we were the first high school class that graduated here,” Thomas said. At the time, three elementary schools — Grove Street, Waverly, and Newton Township — all combined together into AHHS for 7-12th grade. “Everyone was thrown in with people who you had never seen before.”
Craig Fellin came to the reunion from Wise River, Montana because he said he never made it to any of the other reunions. Fellin moved away from the area to Montana to pursue a life of fly fishing. “This is a great place to grow up,” he said of the Abingtons.
Overall, the Class of 1965 enjoyed a jovial tour of their former high school, and it was clear their time together bonded the class members in such a way that lasted 50 years. Thomas said the Class of 1965 would also donate $1,000 that the committee had left over from donations for the reunion’s arrangements to Clarks Summit Elementary.
“It says a lot that people cared that much and are willing to come so far,” Sutphin said.