Registration goes Live!

With the confirmation of our venue and catering reservations, we are ready to sign up classmates for the reunion! See the invitation that describes the event, and then go ahead and register for it!

We expect the outdoor venue covid restrictions to be minimal by August. But if conditions prevent the event, ticket prices will be refunded, so rsvp now and the reunion committee will be able to plan for the crowd size.

Save the Date!

Saturday August 28, 2021
for the
Orono High School Class of 1971 Reunion!

We are getting together after 50 years to compare notes, rediscover old friends, tell dubious stories, show off our gray hair (or not), reminisce, and generally have a good time.

After a year of virus lockdowns and covid limitations, we will be enjoying a day of activities including a morning tour of the new school and a catered picnic dinner at an outdoor venue with music, memorabilia, and other activities.

Look for an official invitation in the weeks ahead with more details, but in the meantime, mark the date on your calendars and make plans to join us!

Saturday August 28, 2021

And while you wait for that invitation…

We are gradually locating our classmates but there are still some for whom we have no email and no phone number.  See if you know anyone on the “missing” list and let us know where they are!

Venue Selected, Tentatively

The Reunion Committee met on February 21, by Zoom, as usual in these covid times. The outlook for coming out of the pandemic is improving and we are optimistic that we can host a reunion event at the end of August. The next items to focus on are the venue, and deciding on catering. We discussed a range of topics, went on reminiscences, and managed to make a few important decisions and conclude the meeting, all within the span of an hour!

In attendance: Jeff Dayton, Thor Olson, Poldi Gerard, Terry Tollefson, Dave Aschenbeck, Betsy Asher, Linda Coffin, Ross Kyllo, Ross Thorfinson, Sue Aschenbeck

Here are the notes Dave took during the meeting:

Classmate Locating:
Thor’s summary: 65 (of 125) have been contacted. 34 yesses for reunion, 15 don’t know, 8 maybes. Weekly “missing” emails garnered a handful of responses. Thor and Poldi will send out a second round of postcards to those who have not yet responded.

Event Plans:
Last Sat. of Aug (28th). Still good.

Venue: Opted for the Eden Prairie outdoor “pavilion” option, due to the “barn’s” event space upstairs not disability-accessible (both are Eden Prairie parks). It can be reserved after March 1 (but maybe later, per covid rules), and Ross T (Eden Prairie resident) will inquire.

Catering: RossT has experience with barbecue place. 3 meats/potatoes/beans/  $13/person.

Kris on school event (1PM) with tour, with optional visit to Pioneer Museum (Long Lake School) 

$40 as a target budget, per person

Miscellaneous:
Generate list of old, community elementary schools (GPS, LindaC)

Memorabilia: recycle Thor and Terry videos, name-tags w/1970 photos, displays?

“Plans for out-of-town visitors”. List a few hotels? (Long Lake motel and EP Mariott properties)

Next Meeting:
21Mar2021, 1PM. (tentative, as may not have EP venue confirmation by then)

Plans Start to Gel

The Reunion Planning Committee met (virtually) again on January 10, 2021. Despite the political disruptions in the country the prior week, we assumed that civilization will continue long enough to have a reunion in August, and so we better plan for it. Vaccines are likely to be widespread and we expect to feel more secure with traveling and meeting in groups. Here are the meeting notes.

Attendees: Terry, Kris, Sue, Jeff, Linda, Ross, Betsy, Thor, Poldi, Dave

Intro: Went ‘round the room’ with quick personal status.

Notes:

·        (Ross) Virtual re-union? (Poldi) Democratic Convention (on Zoom) could be an example? Hope we don’t need to do this. (Linda) remote event/reunion.. subgroups then major event. (Terry) Could do some preliminary zoom sessions as warm-up. (Linda) or have live plus some remote. (Kris) Also have very good experience. Need very knowledgeable folks running the technology.

·        Thor: update on classmate contacts.  117(?) postcards with 16 returns (bad address, undeliverable, no forwarding etc). So 100 made it to someone. Only 7 folks signed up on web site from this (all eager to attend). Plan to send email (to all with good emails) to confirm their interest in a reunion. Also send out a “missing person” list (also email). 68 “missing” at the moment (email unconfirmed or unknown). (Betsy will put out something to the FaceBook group – looking to confirm emails).

·        Kris. Orono activities director (open to tour, reception). Activities or parties? No (probably a no-alcohol issue). She might find someone with a historical perspective on school (e.g. last 50 years). Kris will set up a date

·        Roving discussion about reunion tentative calendar. Last meeting’s notes gave a fairly crowded schedule (many options, Fri eve – Sun aft). After discussion, we ended up with Sat.-only, with late AM or afternoon event at school (reception, tour) and then an evening event.

·        Sat. evening venue criteria:

o   Affordability. We want to insure no one doesn’t come because it’s too expensive

o   Number. Much in choice depends on final count (40th reunion had about 35?)

o   Conversation friendly. We’d like a venue that allowed conversation, for at least ~half the time (e.g. not too loud).

o   Alcohol is a high want, but not a must.

·        Sat. evening venue options:

o   Jeff knows of Maple Plain venue (Iron Exchange? old grocery store, now brew-house with stage). Jeff will follow up with owner about details. He also knows of a barn in Indepedence, but this would take significant effort to make reunion-ready (keep in back pocket?)

o   Terry will check into details concerning the square dance barn W on hiway 7.

o   Dave will check with RossT on details about Eden Prairie park pavilion. 

·        Plans:

o   Send out a save-the-date ASAP (Sat., Aug. 28). Previous communication said only late Aug. (post card). Thor can send emails and Betsy will post on the Facebook group.

o   Thor: establish a likely count (after a few weeks to “find” others), to help select and book venue at next meeting

·        Next Mtg: February 21, 1PM (Sun)

Covid Continues, Planning Proceeds

Amidst the ongoing rules for keeping social distance, the reunion planning committee met again at the end of October, via zoom, to discuss how to proceed.

One of the first topics was “do we keep the date?” (August 27-29, 2021). We decided to be optimistic that vaccines will become widespread, and public health rules will relax to allow groups to gather by late August, and that we need to continue planning accordingly. When the rules do relax, there will be a high demand for venues and vendors, so we should make the plans and reservations now.

If this scenario does not develop, we will do what event planners have been doing all year– postpone it.

Read the meeting notes

Planning in the Age of Corona

With everyone in quarantine, the reunion planning meeting originally scheduled for April 4 2020, was rescheduled to April 11 and changed to an online zoom meeting. We missed sharing the in-person interaction and the refreshing beverages that were promised, but we carried on as best we could. Here is the summary:

Hi 50th Reunion Committee members,

We held a virtual planning meeting yesterday (Saturday, April 11 2020) over the zoom video conference platform.  It was reminiscent of the Brady Bunch on our screens; we had 11 attending:  Betsy Asher, Dave Aschenbeck, Sue Aschenbeck, Linda Coffin, Jeff Dayton,  Poldi Gerard, Ross Kyllo, Brenda Nemastil, Thor Olson,  Kris Rollwagen, Ross Thorfinson.

After the call-in and setup period, we discussed where we were in the planning process:

– Kris considered contacting the school for any resources that they might have for class reunions, but decided this was not a good time to bother them with this topic.  Maybe in a month or so, when the remote teaching challenges have settled down would be better.

– She described some of the online resources that are available, but was unsure about their veracity/security for our purposes (classmates.comoronohighschool.org, a class of 1961 password protected site etc).  We are wary of facebook.

– Brenda offered to set up an online group using technology she has access to, rather than facebook.  
– Linda Coffin offered to help via her expert “Handy Andy”. 
– Betsy offered to create a private (invitation only) facebook group.  This provides a secure channel to communicate to classmates (those who are facebook members).
– Thor has created a wordpress site for the purpose of communicating reunion plans and collecting contact info and other submissions.  He hopes to activate it in the next week or so.

– Poldi created a letter soliciting help finding the remaining classmates for whom we have neither email nor street address.  She and Thor created a gmail account and sent the letter to the 66 email addresses we have.  Seven bounced (fewer than expected), but only 15 replied to confirm their address.  The replies provided some more contact info, and uniformly expressed enthusiasm for the reunion effort. 

– The message did not explicitly request a confirming reply, so we will make a second emailing to those still unconfirmed.

–  We decided to postpone any USPS mailing until we collect those responses, and explore our other channels of getting the word out: the facebook group and sms text messaging with instructions to visit the registration site that Brenda will be setting up.

– We are learning of the passings of our classmates.  The obituary committee will be collecting information about them from which we can compose a video tribute, poster board display, and/or pages on our site.  A subsequent discussion suggested that a simple list of names and dates would be best to avoid missing/unbalanced obits.
–  The school evidently offers memorial stones for sale that are placed as pavers in a courtyard.  Kris will ask the school about this, as well as inquire about our past teachers.

–  The idea was proposed of collecting favorite teacher stories and presenting them at the reunion.  We should certainly invite any living teachers.

–  Sue reported on the state of the treasury.  We have a small balance ($184.78) remaining from the 40th reunion.

–  Sue and Linda offered to look into online methods for payment.  Perhaps there can be a donation page for people to make contributions for event expenses, and also to help fund travel expenses for those coming from out of town (discounted hotel rooms etc).

–  Regarding events and venue selection, there was agreement on “keeping it simple”, having several auxiliary activities (boat outings, school tours, etc) and having a main event gathering that allowed mingling and mixing.  An outdoor event at a park pavilion would be nice at the end of August.  Betsy offered to investigate parks that allow alcohol at gatherings.  The Arboretum was suggested.  It is nice but expensive, though we don’t know how expensive.  We should probably get an estimate for reference.

–  The 40th reunion was very inexpensive; we charged $20 and had opportunities to be frugal.  For the 50th, a suggestion of $50 was made.  What can we do for $50 each?

–  Sue followed up to find our attendance numbers for last time.  She counted 23 attending the dinner, with 9 spouses.  I reviewed the photos from the Red Rooster night and found 5 more that did not attend the dinner.  With more advanced notice, we estimate 50-60 guests might attend.  Once we start getting classmates to “register” their contact info, we can inquire their level of interest.

–  We are all quarantined at the moment, but will plan to get together again mid-June.  If we can meet in groups at that time, Thor and Poldi offered their centrally located home as a meeting place.  And whomever can’t make it, well, we now know how to include you via zoom.

  If you have additional items to add to this summary, or corrections to make, please do so via “reply all”.
Thanks,Thor.

Brunch with Ross

A second planning meeting was held yesterday (Sunday, Jan 19, 2020) at Ross Kyllo’s home.  Seven committee members attended, delicious food was consumed, deep-memory discussions were held, and even a few decisions made.  At one point, after congratulating ourselves on all this, there was a spontaneous eruption of the Orono Spartans Fight Song! 

Here are the relevant notes I took:

Continue reading “Brunch with Ross”

Reunion Committee Forms

In September 2019, a collection of classmates who expressed interest in planning the 50th reunion got together at This Odd House, the home of Thor Olson and Poldi Gerard. Here is the meeting summary:

50th Reunion Committee members,

Thanks for joining us and participating in a productive and enjoyable first meeting of the OHS-50RC!  We made it through a grueling agenda and even made two decisions:

Continue reading “Reunion Committee Forms”