WILKES-BARRE — Gertrude Stein, the American novelist, poet, playwright and art collector, wrote that famous line — “A rose is a rose is a rose.”
And there are many roses, but none more significant or meaningful than the red rose.
The red rose is a symbol of love, beauty, courage and respect. It is always associated with romantic love, but can be given as a symbol of congratulations, or a job well done, or a show of respect, courage and passion.
It is said that the beauty of the red rose expresses promise, hope, and new beginnings.
And even a single, long-stemmed red rose can evoke a powerful response from its recipient. This, for sure, is a trait no other flower can convey.
Next week, the Wyoming Valley West High School Class of 1968 will celebrate its 50th reunion with a weekend of fun. A mixer will be held Friday night at The Woodlands, a tour of the former high school — now the WVW Middle School — and the reunion bash at Genetti’s on Saturday, and a farewell brunch Sunday at Harveys Lake.
This will be a time for red roses.
There were 692 members of the WVW Class of ‘68, of which I am one. Despite this being our 50th anniversary of our graduation, only about one-third of the class members will be in attendance. It seems even 50 years later, sentimentality has not yet impacted most of our classmates. I find this to be most unfortunate, given the circumstances of our beginnings.
In 1966, there was no Wyoming Valley West — but there was Kingston, Forty Fort, Plymouth, Swoyersville, Luzerne, Edwardsville, Larksville, Courtdale and Pringle. In 1967, those nine towns became Wyoming Valley West when they were consolidated into three high schools — Plymouth Area, Kingston Area and Forty Fort Area. They all graduated together from WVW in 1967 — the first class of WVW.
We followed in 1968, the second WVW class, but our distinction is that we all went to one school.
We had all been unceremoniously removed from where we felt comfortable — our hometowns, our schools and our teachers. We had gone to school together with our pals and buddies for 10 years and then a decision was made to consolidate 9 towns into one school district. It created what everyone back then called a monster.
Well, we made the best of it. We went to school, we graduated and along the way we got to know some of the people we shared classrooms, locker rooms and lunchrooms with. We went to football games and basketball games and we cheered for our team, the Spartans, and we wore those uniforms of burgundy and gold.
As a result, the kids from Plymouth really never did get to really know any kids from Kingston or Swoyersville, or Forty Fort, or Luzerne or Courtdale or Pringle.
So we had a 10-year reunion and a 20th, but when it came time for our 25th, well, we couldn’t even get 100 reservations. That hurt, but we managed to muster enough for a 30th, but still that feeling of sentimentality that accompanies these sorts of get-togethers really never happened with WVW ‘68.
But things changed when we planned our 40th and 45th reunions.
The real reason for our success for those two events can be attributed to one person — Deidre Miller Kaminski. Because of her effort — her passion and determination to bring us all together — the 40th and 45th reunions were huge successes.
Since those two reunions, our class has grown in many ways. We all realize today what we all missed in 1967-68 — we know the friendships that were possible, the fun that was there for us to have, the experience of being classmates in our senior year.
It took us 40-plus years, but we finally know more about each other than ever and that’s because of Deidre.
Deidre has shown us how to remember everything we never had a chance to learn.
Deidre has made us classmates — real classmates — who care about each other and, truth be known, probably always would have, had we been given the time.
Those who have gotten to know Deidre can, and should, celebrate what she has done to bring us all out of that cloud of darkness that surrounded us back in 1967-68 to a brighter day today that makes each of us proud to say we are graduates of Wyoming Valley West.
Deidre has managed to consolidate the students from those nine towns into one body with one heart that loves their school, their past and each other.
That’s why Deidre and every woman attending the WVW 50th reunion will receive a red rose when they arrive.
The roses signify the promise and hope of our new beginnings back in 1968 — and they celebrate the roads we have traveled over 50 years and the journey that continues — together.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]