Florence keeps traditions alive
Florence High School closed 50 years ago, but that hasn’t stopped it from having what alumni contend is the longest continuing alumni reunion in the state.
The group’s 124th alumni banquet drew an identical 124 reservations of alumni, guests, and teachers from Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. Classes honored went all the way back to 1940.
Cliney Suffield is one of 14 members of the class of 1956, which received recognition at the banquet for 65 years
“The banquet seems to be getting smaller because we don’t have any new graduates, and of course the older people are passing away,” Suffield said.
The school combined with Marion High School, starting with the class of 1972.
Many Florence alumni still are connected with members from their classes. While Suffield lives in Texas, he keeps in touch with class members from North Carolina and Hutchinson.
“We talk about the past, school days, and how everybody’s doing,” he said.
He has fond memories of his days at Florence.
“I knew all my classmates and their parents, their brothers, and their sisters. That doesn’t happen today, I don’t think,” he said. “The teacher knew all the kids. They don’t know the kids today; they can’t spend time with them because there’s too many of them.”
Ron Osgood, class of 1961, had similar sentiments.
“I miss it, you know?” Osgood said. “It’s sad that the building had to be torn down, but we understand the reason why.”
Osgood was class president for 1961. He puts in extra effort to get the class back together every five or 10 years.
“I’ve got contacts for all my classmates, and as we get closer to getting together, I’ll try to email them and text them and encourage them to all get together,” he said. “We’ve got a nice group.”
He also appreciates the banquet when it comes.
“This was our 60th anniversary,” he said. “We went and visited, looked at our pictures in old yearbooks. We have a good meal and a good time there.”
At the banquet, the 1970 and 1971 classes, the last to graduate at Florence High School, were honored at the head table.
Mike Robinson, class of 1967, was master of ceremonies, and Reilly Reid, class of 1965, commander of the Florence VFW post, served the meal.
Scholarships were awarded to Laura Savage and Jaden Slifer, both from Marion High School.