All-class reunion unites graduates of former West Pittston High School

By Tony Callaio - For Sunday Dispatch
Mickey Melberger, center, class of ‘57, stands with the oldest graduates of West Pittston High School; Bill Hastie, Sr., left, class of ‘36 (99 years old) and John Markarian, right, class of ‘35 (101 years old), at the third annual West Pittston High School all-class reunion at Irem Country Club, Dallas, Aug. 25. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Longtime friends and classmates Mike Saia, left, and Danny Llewellyn, class of 1964, enjoy the all-class reunion yearly. Saia still resides in West Pittston while Llewellyn lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Photographer Phil Dente, class of 1962, snaps a group shot of, from left, Robert Tambur (‘56), George Chaump (‘53), Donald Chaump (‘58), Dolores Panzitta Fielding (‘56), Louis Chaump (‘52). - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
West Pittston High School committee member Ronald Rogers (‘59), right, adresses reunion goers with West Pittston Association President Craig Roberston (‘65) near by. - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Members of the West Pittston High School Class of 1948 celebrated their 70th anniversary reunion. From left, are Henrietta Mary Pellicotti Sellani, Sylvia Barnes Richards, Beverly Williams, John Williams, Ann Vallere Alaimo. Standing, John Keim Pribula. - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

DALLAS — More than 260 family members, friends, graduates and former students of the former West Pittston High School gathered for the third year at an all-classes reunion Aug. 25 at Irem Country Club.

West Pittston High School (WPHS), now a part of the Wyoming Area School District, held its last graduation in June 1966, closing an era of the West Pittston High School Alumni Association for good.

Something remarkable happened in 2014 when 130 WPHS alumni gathered at the studios of WVIA for a live viewing of its “Our Town” series featuring West Pittston. Interest began to build to resurrect the WPHS Alumni Association.

It was there at the studio when old friends and acquaintances gathered one more time to celebrate and honor their beloved hometown. As a part of the presentation, recorded at an earlier date, WPHS alumni gathered on the steps of the former high school building to sing the alma mater, which was played during the telecast.

The old WPHS banner was resurrected and displayed at the studio.

The WPHS Alumni Association was brought back to life in 2015 and today, the association boasts a membership of more than 800 graduates and attendees. Anyone who attended the West Pittston school system, along with graduates, was welcomed to join.

According to association president Craig Robertson ’65, while planning the 50th anniversary reunion of his class, he discovered the WPHS Class of ’59 had the school’s banner. Other memorabilia for the reunion was gathered and, after the reunion, Robertson and his classmates were faced with what to do with the memorabilia gathered.

“I called Mary Portelli, president of the West Pittston Historical Society, and I brainstormed with her and said there’s a tremendous confluence of interest among West Pittston graduates, the historical society and the West Pittston Library,” Robertson said. “We just have to find a way to bring that confluence of interest together.” Portelli’s response was to restart the WPHS Alumni Association.

At the reunion, there was representation from graduating classes as far back as 1935 with 101-year-old John Markarian, followed by 99-year-old Bill Hastie from the Class of 1936. Markarian didn’t graduate from West Pittston High School but did attend in his earlier years.

Ron Rogers, who often represented the Class of 1929, passed away at the age of 107 in August 2017. This year’s reunion was dedicated to his memory.

Danny Llewellyn, a native of Avoca who graduated from WPHS in 1964, traveled from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands for the annual reunion.

“It’s enjoyable to see all these people I haven’t seen in years,” Llewellyn said. “I don’t recognize half of them but when I see the name and I put a face, I can realize who they are.”

The WPHS Alumni Association has been philanthropic since its origin and continues to be today.

“Last year, we established the WPHS Alumni Association Scholarship (to Wyoming Area students) and we budgeted $1,000 and gave away two scholarships. This year we gave away three at $500 to each recipient,” said alumni association vice president for preservation and education Ellen Moss Quinn ’66.

In addition to the reunion, the association holds fundraisers to raise money towards the scholarships and the reunion.

Mickey Melberger, center, class of ‘57, stands with the oldest graduates of West Pittston High School; Bill Hastie, Sr., left, class of ‘36 (99 years old) and John Markarian, right, class of ‘35 (101 years old), at the third annual West Pittston High School all-class reunion at Irem Country Club, Dallas, Aug. 25.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_WPHS1.jpgMickey Melberger, center, class of ‘57, stands with the oldest graduates of West Pittston High School; Bill Hastie, Sr., left, class of ‘36 (99 years old) and John Markarian, right, class of ‘35 (101 years old), at the third annual West Pittston High School all-class reunion at Irem Country Club, Dallas, Aug. 25. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Longtime friends and classmates Mike Saia, left, and Danny Llewellyn, class of 1964, enjoy the all-class reunion yearly. Saia still resides in West Pittston while Llewellyn lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_WPHS2.jpgLongtime friends and classmates Mike Saia, left, and Danny Llewellyn, class of 1964, enjoy the all-class reunion yearly. Saia still resides in West Pittston while Llewellyn lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Photographer Phil Dente, class of 1962, snaps a group shot of, from left, Robert Tambur (‘56), George Chaump (‘53), Donald Chaump (‘58), Dolores Panzitta Fielding (‘56), Louis Chaump (‘52).
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_WPHS3.jpgPhotographer Phil Dente, class of 1962, snaps a group shot of, from left, Robert Tambur (‘56), George Chaump (‘53), Donald Chaump (‘58), Dolores Panzitta Fielding (‘56), Louis Chaump (‘52). Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

West Pittston High School committee member Ronald Rogers (‘59), right, adresses reunion goers with West Pittston Association President Craig Roberston (‘65) near by.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_WPHS4.jpgWest Pittston High School committee member Ronald Rogers (‘59), right, adresses reunion goers with West Pittston Association President Craig Roberston (‘65) near by. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Members of the West Pittston High School Class of 1948 celebrated their 70th anniversary reunion. From left, are Henrietta Mary Pellicotti Sellani, Sylvia Barnes Richards, Beverly Williams, John Williams, Ann Vallere Alaimo. Standing, John Keim Pribula.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_WPHS5.jpgMembers of the West Pittston High School Class of 1948 celebrated their 70th anniversary reunion. From left, are Henrietta Mary Pellicotti Sellani, Sylvia Barnes Richards, Beverly Williams, John Williams, Ann Vallere Alaimo. Standing, John Keim Pribula. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
All-class reunion unites graduates of all ages

By Tony Callaio

For Sunday Dispatch

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or email sd@psdispatch.com

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or email sd@psdispatch.com