Reunion preparations reach final stage

by Tom Coombe

For Pat Koski and the virtual army of volunteers who are working on the 2004 Ely Memorial High School All-Class Reunion, several months worth of labor and planning are bearing fruit.<BR><BR>The preparations are nearly complete, and the celebration is just about set to begin.<BR><BR>Next week, several hundred Ely graduates will participate in the first local all-class event in nine years.<BR><BR>Set for June 30-July 5, the reunion combines individual class events with several all-class activities and the community’s Fourth of July celebration.<BR><BR>Add it all up, and it’s nearly a week’s worth of festivity and fun that Ely graduates won’t soon forget, according to event organizers.<BR><BR>“After Monday night’s (reunion committee) meeting, I think most of us walked out with a smile on our face and the thought that this is really coming together well,” said Koski, who co-chairs the organizing committee along with Mary Ann Lekatz. “Our committees have worked so hard to put together events like the entertainment extravaganza and the pep rally, they really deserve the credit. And there’s been just a lot of anticipation and community support for the reunion.”<BR><BR>As of early last week, more than 650 Ely alumni had already signed up for the reunion.<BR><BR>Registrations continue to pour in (PO Box 232, Ely, MN 55731) and committee members are hopeful that the total count could match the 1995 reunion, which attracted almost 900 Ely graduates.<BR><BR>The registration fee is $40, and covers admission to nearly every reunion event, including the July 3 entertainment show at Washington Auditorium.<BR><BR>And though the countdown to the reunion has reached its final stage, there’s still time for Ely graduates to take part.<BR><BR>“We’re not going to turn anybody down,” said Koski. “By all means they can still participate.”<BR><BR>Alumni may mail registration fees in or sign up at registration tables that will be set up at the JFK Cafeteria during the first three days of the reunion.<BR><BR>The committee has assembled a full schedule of activities (see box at right for a partial list), including a July 1 open house at the high school.<BR><BR>Graduates are invited to tour the hallways, classrooms and grounds, and they’ll be able to obtain copies of their grade transcripts.<BR><BR>A school lunch will be available, and displays of old Hi-Lites newspapers, Timberlane yearbooks, band and athletic uniforms will be on display.<BR><BR>Retired teachers Ben Mauser, Eldon Foster and Gordy Jacobson are hoping that former Ely instructors will return for the event, and the committee has also invited the general public to tour the school.<BR><BR>“We want to invite the people of Ely to tour the school,” said Koski. “You don’t have to be a graduate. There are a lot of taxpayers who haven’t seen the school and there’s been a lot of change there over the last few years.”<BR><BR>More than 400 alumni are expected for a reunion banquet that night at the Ely Arena, and festivities continue through the weekend, including a July 2 tailgate party, pep rally, snake dance and bonfire.<BR><BR>On July 3, Washington Auditorium will fill up with folks who watch Ely alumni perform at the entertainment show. Organizers are working on a themed show with entertainment featuring graduates from several different decades.<BR><BR>The reunion will have a strong presence in Ely’s July 4 parade.<BR><BR>The grand marshal is scheduled to be Ellen Hanson, graduate of Ely Memorial’s Class of 1923 and the oldest registrant for the 2004 reunion.<BR><BR>The reunion committee has donated funds toward Ely’s July 4 fireworks celebration and the event wraps up with a July 5 memorial service.<BR><BR>Throughout the week, 14 different individual class or multi-class reunions have been scheduled.<BR><BR>Look for features on several reunion events in next week’s Echo.<BR><BR>