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New Kensington High's class of 1967 ready for first reunion in 20 years

Emily Balser
| Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Ken Hi classmates Gina Pesce, Merlina Spataro, DeeAnn Myers, Becka Roditis and Jannene Pagliari look at the 1967 yearbook at the home of Becka Roditis on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, as they plan the 50th anniversary event for the last graduating class of New Kensington High School.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Ken Hi classmates Gina Pesce, Merlina Spataro, DeeAnn Myers, Becka Roditis and Jannene Pagliari look at the 1967 yearbook at the home of Becka Roditis on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, as they plan the 50th anniversary event for the last graduating class of New Kensington High School.

Members of the last graduating class of New Kensington High School are celebrating 50 years since their commencement, with what organizers are calling the last big reunion.

The class of 1967 was the final one to graduate from the high school, before the New Kensington and Arnold school systems merged and the high school became Valley High School.

The last time the Ken Hi's class of 1967 held a reunion was 20 years ago.

“We never thought that we could pull it off,” said Becka Roditis, one of the organizers. “It ended up that it's probably going to be one of the biggest reunions.”

The reunion will be Saturday at the Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell. Classmates also can attend a casual get-together at 7 p.m. Friday at The Beermuda in New Kensington.

“Everyone has just been so receptive,” Roditis said. “The community has gotten excited about it.”

The reunion was put together by nine classmates who still live in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

“Our tassel might have faded, but our spirit hasn't,” said Jannene Pagliari.

The group expects that around 150 people will attend.

Memorabilia will be on display during the reunion, and classmates will have a chance to stroll down memory lane.

Roditis said classmates will recall hitting North Star Pizza, going to the Rustic Inn for french fries with gravy, dancing to the oldies at Henry's and going to WKPA, then the local radio station, on Saturdays for disc jockey Bob Livorio's show.

“It was a booming town,” DeeAnn Myers said.

The organizers also highlighted many of the differences between going to school back then and now.

Roditis recalls the girls not being allowed to wear pants, the rivalry with neighboring schools and the sense of community that was felt among the students.

“The differences are astounding,” Roditis said. “It's all about nostalgia.”

The class graduated amid controversial times, in the middle of the Civil Rights and women's movements and the Vietnam War.

The organizers said their class cared and wanted change in the world.

“I wouldn't have wanted to grow up in any other era,” Roditis said.

Some classmates went on to enlist in the military, some took part in protests and others headed off to college and the workforce.

“Growing up here made us ready for the world,” Roditis said.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter @emilybalser.

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