MHS Class of 1976 holds reunion
Classmates recall good times, fallen members
The Monett High School Class of 1976 recently held its 40th reunion over three days in Monett
Festivities began with a get-together on a Friday evening, at the home of Raymond and Melissa Priest. Some classmates and guests enhanced the evening by taking in the Cubs football game that evening at Burl Fowler Stadium against the Cassville Wildcats. Those at the game had an opportunity to recognize and visit with classmates from adjoining years.
On the next morning, the reunion committee, out-of-town classmates as well as locals met to decorate the at the Fellowship hall of St. Lutheran Church in Monett and lunch at Mocha Jo’s. That evening, classmates assembled at the church. Upon entering, guests were provided name tags with their senior pictures, made by Penny Miller who offered the sale of raffle tickets for a chance to win an original pottery bowl handmade by classmate and artesian Terri (Bradley) Balden.
A balloon archway as well as various purple and gold decorations filled the room. Each centerpiece included the nostalgic harvest yellow Homecoming Mums surrounded in purple baby’s breath placed in a mason jar and dropped into a container wrapped in yearbook senior pictures, encased in purple and gold ribbon and sealed with a Cub replica.
Additionally, red-white-and-blue ribbon was added to the arrangement to signify and honor the bicentennial of our country coinciding with their graduation in 1976. The Class of 1976 was the first to wear red white and blue tassels on their graduation caps.
A large custom vinyl banner designed by classmate David Bass welcomed the class at the entrance to the church with the greeting: ‘Welcome Class of 1976,” and another adorning the fellowship hall wall welcoming classmates and guests.
Nostalgia and memorabilia highlighted the welcome area, such as a miniature 1950’s era school desk, vinyl records and record player, eight track player, poster of events happening in 1976 and a replica treasure chest containing each classmates picture. The table specifically displayed yearbooks spanning 1973 to 1976 and supplements. A milk jug was set out for donations to help offset costs.
Paula (Stellwagen) Kay created a photo booth with a large "Class of 1976" frame, backdrop curtain of purple and gold tinsel with a variety of fun props encouraged classmates and guests to get silly snapping candid pictures. The best shots ended up on the Class of 76 Facebook page. Kay also designed keepsake printouts of the Monett High School Alma Mater featuring the old three story high school building and Class “Chant” song on reverse. A memorial table, designed by LeeAnn (Bruegel) Beshears, displayed individual portraits of those now departed classmates, illuminated by candlelight. The table sat in a quiet and tranquil area of the hall offering classmates an opportunity to share memories of the departed classmates, as well as many sweet stories that were shared.
Recognized at the memorial table were: Lester Buenning, Marty Crist, Steve Cox, James Freer, Bill Langevin, Becky Pinkley, Mike Nine, Brett Sagehorn, Mike Sanders, Keith Stephens, Ronnie Thomas and Tommy Weston.
The hand-crafted purple and brown pottery bowl embodied with a cub paw crafted and donated by Terri (Bradley) Balden was the prize for the event's raffle. The winner of the drawing for the bowl was Bill Coatney. However, he presented the bowl to classmate Diane (Beshears) Dupre, coordinator of the event, for her hard work.
Various committees who played a big part in the reunion being received a gift from the class. Serving on the food and drink committee were: Rebecca (Blalock) Hughes, Kim (Jones) McCracken, Lyla (Jefferson) Perrodin, and Rachel (Fritz) Mais. On the decorating committee, helping from name tags, raffle, table decorations to memorabilia displayed, Photo booth, Class Al Mater Song and Chant keepsakes, to the memorial table, were: Paula (Stellwagen) Kay, LeeAnn (Bruegel) Beshears, and Penny Miller, all out-of-towners. The meal was catered by Prime Cut in Monett.
Other classmates recognized and given a gift were: Suzanne (Yde), traveling the furthest distance from Copenhagen, Denmark. Suzanne was the class’ Foreign Exchange Student. Classmate recognized as the most changed went to Billy Jack. Leonard Witt was recognized and gifted for his help in locating and contacting classmates for the reunion.
A shirt was presented to Melissa (Bass) Priest, wife of classmate Raymond Priest, for continually offering to open her home during reunions, and for serving as an excellent host. She was given a purple shirt, imprinted with "Honorary Member of the Class of 1976,” and also gifted to both her and Raymond for opening their home.
Paula (Stellwagen) Kay presented a customized megaphone to Diane (Beshears) Dupre as a ‘shout-out’ in appreciation for keeping the class connected, and for organizing the reunion.
The class is notorious for sending flowers or a memorial to classmates and or parents of classmates who have passed away. The class also strives to memorialize all classmates and their families. It was also noted how touching it is for classmates to receive memorials or flowers in honor of their deceased family member.
All funds raised by donations or by the purchasing of raffle tickets for the pottery bowl, were used to pay for the cost of the reunion. Remaining funds are used to send memorials or flowers to classmates as mentioned above. This class has uniquely kept in touch throughout the years, sending flowers or memorials are one way in doing. The class motto is "The Class with Heart!"
Hits of the 1970’s were played throughout the evening, which was derived from a playlist made by classmate David Bass, the class music guru.
Diane Beshears read a poem written by classmate LeeAnn (Bruegel) Beshears, in honor of the class’ 40th reunion that summed up much of the sentiment of the occasion:
Look at these faces, what do you see?
There could be a picture here of you or of me.
Yes, this life can end in the blink of an eye,
And we didn't get the chance to tell them goodbye.
Remembering the good times and some of the bad,
Sharing life's journey is just what we've had.
Growing up together and staying in touch,
Didn't seem so important, but now means so much.
Look at these faces, what do you see?
Do you see you? Do you see me?
I see youth that I still feel inside,
I see faces that I wish had not died.
As we join together, celebrating 40 years,
Sharing with each other our joys and our tears.
We remember these classmates that cannot be here,
And thankful for those who came from far and near.
My prayer is, "Dear God,
Bless and guide this class of friends,
That we may all celebrate the greatest reunion,
When this journey ends." Amen.