First Mount Anthony Union High School class celebrates its 50th reunion

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BENNINGTON — Mount Anthony Union High School's first graduating class reunited on evening for their its 50th reunion.

Over 100 members of the Class of 1967 and their spouses returned. Some came from the area, while others traveled far to catch up with their former classmates and childhood friends. According to Francine Purcey, the event organizer and member of the class, previous reunions consisted of the same returning faces. This year, however, even more people returned.

Although the group marks MAUH's first official class, the group did not actually attend the new school due to construction delays. They finished their senior year at what was then Bennington High School.

For those who lived in North Bennington and attended the town's high school, they were brought via bus into Bennington to finish their final school year as the two schools had merged into one, Purcey said. She had been one of the many students who had attended that school prior to the change.

By the time the school year ended, both the auditorium and the cafeteria were finished enough so that graduation could be held in the school's new quarters. The graduates had to step over concrete blocks and some chairs in the auditorium were still covered in plastic when the ceremony took place.

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The all-night- graduation-party took place in the cafeteria as it does now each year. Graduates could not venture to other parts of the building. Parents helped put the event on.

"We had to stay in that area," Purcey said, "everything else was concrete blocks."

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Blue and white balloons were tied to chairs placed by the tables. Old photographs were stationed at the front of the Elk's club as the alumni walked in. The photos were provided by Linda Lewis, the class's vice-president, and another event organizer. She allowed people to take any photos they found themselves in. Most of the pictures were taken at school events or social gatherings beyond the school grounds.

A memorial was held for 29 members of the class who have passed away. Two boards with yearbook pictures of the classmates stood on a table with notebooks of published obituaries, some from the Bennington Banner, others printed off the web and featured in other publications. One of the boards even held a picture of a student who drowned in Lake Paran before senior year.

There was a space for those who received purple hearts during their time in the services. A binder with updated information was also available for viewing, for those looking to reconnect.

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"You would be surprised how many people you don't recognize," said Michael Lillie, of Shaftsbury. "I think we've had a good time and it was well planned."

"It's fun to see everyone," said Dale Gordon (Whitman). "You can still see the similarities."

Gordon traveled from Oneonta, N.Y. to attend the event.

Planning for Saturday's event began at the 44th reunion and has been going on in earnest for the past year.

Reach the Bennington Banner at


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