Reunion: fond memories, old friends

by Tom Coombe

Byron Moren looked around his old classroom Thursday with a wide smile on his face.<BR><BR>It’s been 20 years since Moren had taught business education in the top floor room at Ely Memorial High School, and the typewriters that were a staple of Moren’s curriculum were long gone.<BR><BR>In their place were a century’s worth of memories - yearbooks, old school newspapers, band uniforms, letter jackets and other school memorabilia.<BR><BR>Moren’s old room was dubbed “The Remembering Room” for Thursday’s Day at School, the kickoff event to the 2004 Ely Memorial High School All-Class Reunion, and if the smiles worn by Moren and the hundreds of others who walked through the halls and school grounds were any indication, fond memories were the rule and not the exception.<BR><BR>“I think it’s just great,” Moren said during a break from shaking hands and renewing acquaintances with former students. “There are so many smiles and so much happiness. I’m meeting a lot of my old students.”<BR><BR>Down the hall, Bob Scheuer was having a similar experience.<BR><BR>Scheuer spent 36 years in the Ely school system, first as a teacher, later as a junior high principal and as the principal at Ely Memorial in his last decade in education.<BR><BR>“It’s been very fun,” said Scheuer. “You see a lot of old faces. Some you remember their names and some you don’t.”<BR><BR>Scheuer joined Moren and other retired Ely faculty including Gordy Jacobson, Merle Lunceford, Rudy Marolt, Ben Mauser, Carol Perry and Bill Braun at Thursday’s event.<BR><BR>Retired and current Ely faculty were on hand to greet reunion participants, many who had traveled from around the country to attend, during the day-long event at school.<BR><BR>The classrooms and computer laboratories were open for tours, and many mingled in the cafeteria and ate a school lunch. Inside the gymnasium, current high school cheerleaders and danceline members teamed up with former cheerleaders and majorettes in preparation for Friday night’s pep rally and snake dance.<BR><BR>“A lot of (the high school building) is still the same,” said Moren, who taught here for 26 years. “I don’t see a lot of changes in the physical plant.”<BR><BR>Twin brothers Bill and Dan Somrock, graduates of Ely Memorial’s Class of 1964, stood in the hallways Thursday afternoon and thought back to their days here 40-plus years ago.<BR><BR>“My fondest memory is that we had the best prom ever,” said Bill Somrock. “The teachers and kids all worked together and decorated the heck out of the gymnasium. I can remember (the late former teacher) Norma Gourley sitting on the floor (decorating).”<BR><BR>Both Somrocks went on to careers in education - Dan at Bemidji and Bill at Forest Lake -and both attributed their career paths to the efforts of Ely’s faculty members.<BR><BR>“In our elementary years there were a lot of maiden ladies who gave up their lives for us,” said Bill Somrock. “We became their kids.”<BR><BR>“When I came back I thanked Bill Braun and Rudy Marolt for their efforts on our behalf,” said Dan Somrock. “They were good teachers and I became a teacher because of their influence.”<BR><BR>The first local all-class event since 1995 combined individual class reunions with several all-class activities and the community’s Fourth of July celebration.<BR><BR>As of Thursday more than 700 Ely alumni had already signed up for the reunion and registrations continued to pour in at the headquarters, located at the JFK cafeteria.<BR><BR>Pat Koski, who co-chaired the event along with Mary Ann Lekatz, found a few minutes Thursday to take a break.<BR><BR>“Everyone seems to be enjoying themself,” said Koski. “Everywhere you turned in the school, you see somebody you know or someone you remember, former students and former teachers. And they’re saying they’re enjoying (the reunion) and thanking us for putting it on.”<BR><BR>Thursday’s open house was just the first part of a multi-day celebration.<BR><BR>Also scheduled were:<BR><BR>• A banquet Thursday night at the Ely Arena with a buffet dinner and music by the Barich Brothers, attracting a sellout crowd of more than 425 people;<BR><BR>• A tailgate party outside the baseball field Friday afternoon, followed by a pep rally, snake dance and bonfire;<BR><BR>• Reunions for those who attended Lincoln School and Pioneer School, set for Saturday afternoon;<BR><BR>• A Saturday night entertainment extravaganza featuring several Ely graduates, an event which was set to attract a sellout crowd of over 900 people inside Washington Auditorium<BR><BR>• Reunion floats in Ely’s Fourth of July parade;<BR><BR>• Individual class reunions taking place throughout the week;<BR><BR>• A memorial service July 5 at Washington Auditorium.<BR><BR>