Prescott High Half-Century Club, an organization that thrives on nostalgia, celebrates
Prescott High School’s Half-Century Club inducted its latest class on Thursday afternoon; the music for the luncheon at the Prescott Resort were hits of the era — and the memories were of hotrods, homecoming hijinks, hikes to illuminate “P” mountain at dark, and healthy doses of homework.
“It’s like a family coming together,” declared Kitty Tenney, wife of Harold Tenney Class of 1967. “It’s like time hasn’t passed much, and that goes for spouses, too.”
More than 600 Prescott High School graduates attended the annual luncheon that was filled with laughter, music, reminiscences and catch-up on such things as children, grandchildren and life in Prescott for those who are visiting after moving away from their high school home.
Jim “Noodles” Newton recalls high school as a lot of “fun,” a time of cars, clubs — he was a member of the national FFA organization — and a high school sweetheart, Charlotte Mayer Newton. From graduation, Newton spent two years in the United States Army overseas in Korea before he and Charlotte married and together raised two children and now have three grandchildren.
He joked with friends that there would be “a lot of old people” at the reunion and then looked in the mirror and discovered he’s “one of them.”
Class of 1963 graduate Janet Orr declared her table to be the “best class ever.” Her husband, Jack, disagreed; he is a member of the Class of 1956, his father Jack Sr. was one of the initial Prescott Half Century Club founders.
In June 1978, Orr and several of his fellow alumni were having lunch at his home, reflecting on their school days. The group of about 15 people had so much fun together they decided they should meet.
“This is so wonderful,” Jane Orr said of the Half-Century Club. “I don’t think this happens anywhere else.”
One of the oldest graduates to attend on Thursday was Fay Walker Webster, 98, the Class of 1938. Her now-deceased husband, Bob, was a fellow graduate.
Fay’s memories of Prescott High, then a junior and senior high school located at 219 E. Gurley St., revolve around the teachers who inspired her to love learning so much she opted to become a teacher. She spent more than four decades teaching elementary-aged children, including time in Brazil, as well as in her later years tutoring children and adults; she is particularly proud that she recalls how she taught a 70-year-old man how to read. Fay has four adult children, 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
“I just loved school,” she said, recalling with clarity her English teacher, Miss Moyer of Boston, and geometry teacher “Pop” McNarie, whose son, Bill, later became a school administrator. As a principal in Camp Verde, McNarie hired Fay as one of his teachers. McNarie stopped at Fay’s table to chat with the woman he still reveres, remember how she was a babysitter for several of his five siblings before he was even born.
“We had a wonderful group of teachers with real passion. We always had homework, and it was expected of us.”
The entire afternoon was full of just those types of stories, and the Prescott High School band serenaded the crowd with songs of this era as well as the school fight song that many of those attending could recite from memory. Class of 1966 event organizer Teresa Rodarte Reeser had tears in her eyes as she listened to the band perform the fight song that she recalled singing at the top of her lungs for pep rallies and at graduation. Her family boasts five generations of Prescott High School graduates. Her son, Steve, was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame as a football player; her granddaughter graduated last year.
One of Teresa’s favorite memories was hanging out in the quadrangle at what is now Mile High Middle School.
“That was our happy place,” said Teresa, whose husband, Steve, was on the PHS baseball team.
As she flipped through her yearbook, and some of the other years, Teresa said much has changed — students then had no cell phones — but the power of those years remains the same.
After the band finished the fight song, one voice shouted above the applause:
“You’re going to look like us one day.”
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