By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: June 27, 2019 | 10:09 a.m.
WAKEFIELD – On June 1, the Tidewater Academy class of 1969 held a double class reunion – one for their TA graduating class and one for the Old Wakefield High School elementary school classmates – and judging by the description, it was one for the books! Class President and event chairman Liz Daughtrey recently explained why they took on such an ambitious project.
“Well, we all went to what was then called Wakefield High School together,” Daughtrey related, “but when we hit 8th grade, some of us went to Tidewater Academy and some went to Waverly High School or other places. We have been having T.A. reunions fairly regularly, but we had been wanting to have a reunion with our elementary classmates for a long time. So when our 50th reunion was coming up, Bonnie Lowe Looney (co-chair) and I decided to double up with a grade school one in the Foundation and then our Golden reunion across the street at the Academy – the same day!”
Immediately the two began the laborious process of rounding up fellow students from both classes, some of whom they had not seen for sixty years.
“So much research and many phone calls were made to try to locate contact information in the months prior to the event!” Daughtrey said. “Plus it was kind of challenging finding dates that both the Foundation and the Academy were available at the same time that everyone could make it.”
But finally the day of the long-awaited events arrived, and as Daughtrey described it, “The excitement was extreme when the first people came up the sidewalk! It started with a shoe swap like Bonnie Looney and Betsey Kello used to do in elementary school. We’d whisper –‘Who’s that?’ – as we tried to identify people all grown up with mustaches now! Then we shared yearbooks from our time at what is now the Foundation. There were big hugs, happy tears, and so much fun as everybody asked, ‘Do you remember this?’ ‘Do you remember that?’ It was just comical, with such a good feeling about it! Then we toured the school and walking into the auditorium where we had our 3rd-grade play you could just FEEL being there again. We’re so lucky that this is still here. It was like dance recitals, piano recitals – everything would just come back to you from being at the Foundation again!”
Daughtrey and Looney had music from the sixties, a chalkboard welcome message, memorabilia, and posters with pictures of everything from books like Fun with Dick and Jane to pictures of The Beatles, Smokey the Bear, and Captain Kangaroo. Looney had even sprinkled bowls of candies popular in the sixties around to add to the nostalgia, and said that the candy cigarettes and pixie sticks were a particular hit. As they toured the building before lunch, catered by the Virginia Diner, she said everyone especially enjoyed pictures of monkey bars, little girls all in dresses, the big swings, and the little hut playhouse that used to be on the grounds, and talking about one class trip when the then 7th graders took a wreath to Washington to place on President Kennedy’s grave and another trip to the New York World’s Fair.
“That was quite an adventure for these small-town kids,” she said, then excitedly added, “Oh! And while we were all sitting around reminiscing, we video chatted with one class member who was in France!”
After the two hour lunch – which she described as “not nearly long enough”- the ones who graduated from Tidewater Academy headed across the street to their 3 o’clock high school reunion. Beginning with a tour of the alumni room, trophy room, and gym, they went on to share more posters and memorabilia.
“We had a slide show running of all the pictures I could get from yearbooks on a continuous loop until time for dinner,” Daughtrey said. “Then we took some little gold speckled souvenir glasses Bonnie got for us and had a champagne toast before we cut the cake that Gayle Simms had made – with our class picture on it!”
“We had a memorial table at each event for classmates who are deceased-that Bonnie made,” she added, “and everyone helped clean up and take down both events. And I just have to say a big thank you to them and to people who made donations to help defray the costs and especially to the Wakefield Foundation and Tidewater Academy for letting us hold our reunions free of charge. It was just so much fun! Now we definitely want to do that again, and not let this be our only hurrah. It really was a very special time, enjoyed by all, and I’m so glad we did it.”