PHS Half-Century Club members reminisce without 'any cliques'
The graduates of the Prescott High School Class of 1959 are the newest members to the PHS Half-Century Club, which met Sept. 24 at the Prescott Resort for its annual luncheon.
The Class of 1958, which joined the club this past year, hosted the luncheon, and welcomed its newest members.
Donna (Jones) Sykes, Class of 1956, traveled from Harmony, Fla., to attend the luncheon and spend the week with friends.
Sykes said that in addition to attending the Half-Century Club luncheon, she has attended all of the reunions for her graduating class.
"The reunions draw me back. We have a unique class. Everyone was really friendly and after 53 years, we still feel connected. They are not just classmates, they are family," Sykes said.
Sykes said she enjoyed everything about attending PHS.
"I liked the sports. There wasn't anything I didn't like. I liked the unity of our class. When you walked the halls, everyone smiled at you. There weren't any cliques," Sykes said.
Sykes moved to Florida in 1959 with her husband, who was serving in the military.
She said that while she spent most of her life as a housewife, today she is a political activist for the Republican Party.
Joining Sykes at the Class of 1956 table was Charley "Choo Choo" Jones.
Jones attended Washington Elementary School and his fellow students elected him student body president in junior high.
Jones said he played football, basketball and ran track at PHS. He received all state honors as a fullback on the PHS football team.
Jones attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship. He moved to Las Vegas to work for the Atomic Energy Commission, returning to Prescott in 1974 when his parents became ill.
Before he retired, Jones worked for the Prescott Unified School District as a security guard, first at the middle school and then at PHS.
Jones said the 2009 luncheon is only the second PHS Half-Century Club event he has attended.
"It is great, I am meeting more people this year than I did the year before," he said. "Coming to the luncheon is jarring a lot of memories."
Shirley (Burmister) Ballew is a member of the Class of '59 Half-Century Club Luncheon Committee. Ballew and the committee began planning this year's luncheon the day after the 2008 luncheon.
"The most important thing is getting the date set and getting the date arranged with the PHS Band. After that, everything else falls into place," she said.
The busiest time, Ballew said, is when graduates start sending in their registration. This year, 533 PHS graduates registered for the luncheon.
As always, the Pride of Prescott Marching Band kicked off the luncheon with the PHS Fight Song among the cheers and tears of the graduates filling the banquet room at the Prescott Resort.
The newest members of the PHS Half-Century Club are in charge of planning next year's luncheon, where they will welcome the Class of 1960.
Ballew said, "I think the PHS Half-Century Club is something unique. I don't know how many other schools do this."