Glassport High School classmates reunite
By Tim Karan
Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 12:31 a.m.
As more than 200 graduates of the former Glassport High School eased into their seats at the Sons of Italy to reminisce during the school's first all-class reunion on Friday evening, the Rev. Bill Bennett of the Class of 1957 offered a brief blessing.
“We're all still standing,” he said with a chuckle at the Glassport club. “Well, we're sitting, but we're all still here.”
The dinner and dancing event was preceded earlier in the day by a golf outing at Seven Springs Golf Course in Elizabeth Township, marking the start of a three-day extravaganza for anyone who attended the school while it was open from 1920-1966. A spaghetti dinner and oldies dance from 6-11 p.m. will take place on Saturday at the Sons of Italy and an old-fashioned picnic is planned for Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at the Polish National Alliance Club in Glassport with polka band Ray J and the Carousels.
Organizer Chuck Widel said the reunion has drawn Glassport graduates from as far as New York and Los Angeles.
“As soon as we brought it up, my phone started ringing off the hook,” Widel said. “It's been so successful, we're going to do it again next year even bigger and better.”
Glassport Mayor Michael Evanovich, who graduated from South Allegheny High School the first year after Glassport High School merged there, said the community misses its old alma mater.
“In my opinion, Glassport High should still be open,” he said. “So this is a great event to have. I hope they continue to build on it.”
Dewey Tomko, Class of 1964, is perhaps one of the most famous grads of the school. A professional poker player who has competed in the World Series of Poker since 1974 and was elected to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2008, he made the trip from his home in Orlando, Fla., just to rub elbows with old friends.
“I don't recognize any of them,” said Tomko, laughing. “I know how they all look in my memories, but, boy, they don't look that way now.”
Tomko said he owes much of his success to his early life in Glassport.
“I learned to play poker in the streets around here,” he said. “By the time I got out of high school, I knew I could beat anybody.”
Joe Schillaci, Class of 1959, agreed that a blue-collar upbringing in Glassport contributed to his success in business, which included serving as president and CEO of the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas.
“People here have good values and character,” he said. “When you grow up the way we did back then, you learned a certain work ethic. A lot of these friends are more like family, and it's nice to come back after 50 years and feel like you're picking up right where you left off.”
It's a sentiment shared by many others in attendance, including Tony Sinatra, Class of 1961.
“There's just a camaraderie here that's special,” Sinatra said. “There's this tie that all of us will always have to this area and each other. I don't think that will ever stop.”
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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