It’s time for boutonnieres, corsages, prom dresses and tuxedos. But, this year, it’s not just about Parkway juniors and seniors.
Graduates of the original Parkway High School attended their own prom to celebrate friendships spanning more than 50 years. It was truly a senior prom, with invitations extended only to alumni who have celebrated a 50th class reunion, having graduated between the years of 1959 and 1968.
The blast-from-the-past event sponsored by the Parkway Alumni Association [PAA] took place on May 5 at the original high school, which is now Parkway Central Middle. It took place on the 60th anniversary of the very first Parkway prom held in 1958. Alumni recall getting their heels wedged in the unfinished plywood floor at the inaugural prom so many years ago.
Parkway High School was the first secondary school in Parkway to open for students living in the Chesterfield area, with the first graduating class in 1959. If asked the infamous St. Louis question, “Where did you attend high school?,” their answer of “Parkway High” definitely requires some explanation as today the district has four high schools.
When the school first opened, some students formed an equestrian club, since it was not uncommon to ride their horses to school. A lot has changed since then, but one thing has remained constant for many of Parkway graduates – friendships.
Wildwood resident Sharon [Lenger] Farley [class of 1965] has remained connected to her Parkway community through involvement as a board member with PAA, a 501[c] tax-exempt organization whose mission is to encourage communication among alumni and foster programs which serve and support the Parkway community.
Instead of waiting for milestone anniversaries, the class of 1960 began hosting quarterly lunches. Every year, as the next class celebrates its golden anniversary, they are invited to join the luncheon group, which usually includes 25 to 30 participants. Helping coordinate those luncheons is Farley, who thought it would be fun to kick things up a notch this year.
“You hear of nursing homes putting together proms. Why wait until then? Let’s do it while we can still enjoy it,” she mused.
Approximately 50 to 60 alumni attended the prom, with about half of the graduates bringing their spouses as guests. Each graduating class was represented at the prom, having traveled from as far away as South Dakota, Minnesota, Virginia, Arizona, Texas, Florida and California. Calling it a “no muss, no fuss” prom, guests enjoyed light snacks and soft drinks.
Farley scanned prom photos from each yearbook and placed them on poster board as centerpieces for each table representing specific graduating classes. Yearbooks were on hand, too. While there were no prom king and queen named, flowers and tiaras were on hand to take photos and capture that special moment.
The highlight of the event was the band Fanfare, who knew their audience and played to the crowd with 50s and 60s music.
“We had a really good time. People who come to the reunion do it to remember the good times in common even if we are not together on a regular basis,” Farley shared. “I think it also is important to show my family the importance of maintaining these bonds.”
The graduates reminisced about using garden hoses after sports practices, a dump truck unloading a large quantity of dirt straight into a math class, and wearing coats to class during the colder months.
Peggy [Mosinger] Freedman [class of 1968] coordinated her class’ reunion in conjunction with the prom. The newest golden anniversary graduates celebrated with a casual picnic at Millennial Park. Photos were taken using a drone, which is quite an advancement from the days of riding a horse to school.
Freedman, who lives out of state now, added, “Last year, I went on a tour of the high school and it was unrecognizable. Despite those changes, I am thankful for the friendships that have thrived all these years.”
“It’s amazing, too, to see the multiple generations of Parkway graduates all in one place over the years, perhaps attending a child’s soccer game or a birthday party. It’s an incredible legacy passed down between generations,” she shared.
The next alumni luncheon is being held at Mimi’s Café in Chesterfield Valley on June 1. Classes from 1959 through 1968 are invited. To RSVP, contact Elaine [Kesselring] Pratt at (636) 441-1008.
All photos provided by Kabance Photo Services, Inc.