COVENTRY — Eighty-five years ago, Knotty Oaker roots were planted in Coventry. In the time since, a lot has happened in the hallways and classrooms of Coventry High School: countless friendships have formed, lessons have been learned, championships won.
In celebration of the school’s rich history and of all the students who have matriculated there, the Coventry High School Alumni Association has grand plans for an all-class reunion, a gathering of graduates and faculty whose memories of the school span many decades.
Ernest DiMicco, president of the CHS Alumni Association, has been at the helm of efforts to organize the shindig, scheduled for early November. He said the event was inspired by a similar one the Alumni Association threw in 2009 to commemorate the high school’s 75th anniversary.
“It brought a lot of people together,” DiMicco said of the celebration, which drew a crowd of 675.
DiMicco, a former science teacher at the high school and a member of the CHS class of 1966, recalled catching up with students and reminiscing with old classmates.
The feeling in the room that night, DiMicco said, was “amazing.”
“It was just a great evening,” he added. “People took pictures with their old classes and with friends, we had entertainment for the evening. So we’re going to do the same thing.”
DiMicco and a handful of others in the Alumni Association subcommittee tasked with planning the occasion gathered Thursday evening around DiMicco’s dining room table, stacks of papers listing budget numbers and raffle details laid out before them.
As the meeting kicked off, Suzanne Tracy, a math teacher at the high school and a member of the class of 1978, updated the group on the progress of a timeline of the high school’s history that will be displayed at the school’s entrance.
Some of the photos to be included in that project — images from the National Student Council Conference in 1984; snapshots of proms and sports champions and class officers through the decades — will be displayed during the reunion.
Memorabilia was also a topic of discussion.
Jo-Ann Passarelli sat at the table Thursday, pulling from her bag old wrestling T-shirts and various other Oaker paraphernalia to be exhibited at the event along with several other mementos.
For Passarelli, who graduated from CHS in 1980, planning the all-class reunion is an opportunity to give back to the school that nearly four decades later is still so dear to her.
“We love this high school,” she said, sitting beside her friend and fellow 1980 alumna Lori DiCostanzo. “We have many, many memories — wonderful memories — of this high school.”
Another big item on the agenda Thursday involved finalizing advertisements to be placed in a program that will be distributed at the reunion.
While the reunion may end up yielding a profit, which would in turn benefit the scholarships the Alumni Association awards annually to CHS seniors, its purpose actually isn’t to raise funds, DiMicco said.
“We don’t want to put scholarship money toward an event,” DiMicco explained. “We’re trying to raise enough money to have a nice event for people, and we’re hoping we may make a few thousand dollars at the end, but we may not.”
Money collected from ad sales, for example, will be put toward the price of the event, which in total is projected to cost over $30,000.
“Our primary goal is not to be a fundraiser,” DiMicco continued. “It’s to get people there and have them enjoy it and celebrate the school. And if we make money too, great. It’s just going to go right to scholarships.”
Raffle tickets will also be sold at the reunion, with proceeds helping to offset event costs. The committee has received all sorts of raffle items — jewelry, artwork, hotel stays, a range of gift cards — from area businesses.
Committee members also on Thursday discussed party favors, guest speakers and the evening’s entertainment, which so far looks pretty enticing. A comedian will perform, as well as a local band, and a singer who’s a CHS graduate.
Tapped Apple Winery of Westerly will conduct a wine tasting during the reunion.
What better way to reconnect with old teachers and friends than with good food, good wine, and good entertainment?
The 85th All-Class Reunion will take place Friday, Nov. 1 from 6 to 10:30 p.m. at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston. Tickets are available now and are $50 through this month, or $55 after Sept. 1.
Visit oakeralumni.org for more information, or to advertise in the event program or donate a raffle item.