Alumni of Shinnston High School always look forward to a special gathering held every four years that has come to be called a Homecoming Reunion. The event, held since 1976, invites members of ALL graduating classes to return to Shinnston for a weekend of festivities. It does not happen, however, without lots of pre-planning on the part of members of the SHS Alumni Association (SHSAA) who meet at least twice a year and more often as the event draws nearer.
The planning committee has already met several times to consider options for Homecoming 2020 that will be held the weekend of July 17th and 18th, 2020.
While the event has traditionally gathered hundreds and hundreds of Spartan alumni back as far as classmates from the 1930’s and 40’s, many have passed away through the years and attendance has therefore lessened. Many of those remaining, however, still anxiously await this opportunity for Spartan fellowship.
Despite reduced crowds, making arrangements still requires careful advance planning. According to SHS Alumni Association President Debbie Malone, some plans have been decided upon; others are ‘maybes’; and still other options will be dependent upon feedback from alumni.
“Whether you’re dealing with a large group or a small one, it is hard to please everyone, but we try to go with what seems to be the majority choice,” she said. “We know that for some people who attend, it involves travel and overnight stays at hotels if they have no family or close friends in the area, so we also try to consider cost as well while still having something ‘special’.”
Here are some of the things that will definitely be included in next summer’s weekend event. They plan to have a trolley tour of historical sites in and around Shinnston, making probably three trips to accommodate those who wish to visit these sites. An Open House at the Bice-Ferguson Museum will be held, and the Alumni Room located on the Museum’s 2nd floor will be open for alumni to tour during certain hours on Friday, Saturday and perhaps on Sunday. They have also prepared a slide show of past alumni gatherings for attendees to view.
“In the past, it has been obvious from the great number of spectators who have gathered in the downtown area on Saturdays just how much our alumni enjoyed the Alumni Parade. But because those folks as well as our organization’s officers are aging, fewer people get involved with that and we have fewer workers, volunteers and planners to handle the parade, so that will likely be eliminated this next year,” Mrs. Malone stated. “People always liked the class displays in storefront windows in the downtown area as well. But this, too, presented issues with setting them up and tearing them down at a time that was convenient for business owners. We are instead considering renting the Woman’s Club clubhouse and asking classes to set up a table with memorabilia from their class during the weekend if they’d like to.”
Malone said the committee will definitely host the event’s customary Parking Lot Party at Lincoln High School on Friday evening.
“Everyone always enjoys this chance to just visit, reminisce, and get reacquainted. It is very informal and always draws a huge crowd as the reunion’s opener,” she added.
Two options are under consideration for Saturday evening’s celebration. SHSAA officers have already met with a site coordinator and have received a price for a dinner/dance (with DJ) which would likely cost attendees approximately $50 per person.
The second option is a dinner/dance cruise aboard one of the Gateway Clipper’s fleet. The vessel that would be utilized has a capacity of 225 and would exclusively host SHS alumni only on that evening. They have also priced bus transportation to and from Pittsburgh if the cruise is the favored option. Depending upon the number of reservations, the cost would be in the $75 to $90 range, which includes the bus transport. For those who choose to make the drive to and from Pittsburgh on their own, the bus fee would be deducted.
“A few individual classes have enjoyed these cruises for their own reunions,” Malone added, “and it is nice because even those who don’t want to dance can visit the upper decks and enjoy the Three Rivers scenic view.”
Since ALL alumni are growing older, another subject has been reflected upon. These celebrations have been going on now for more than forty years, and at some point, they will no longer be held. Having done the math, even the last of those to graduate from Shinnston High School will be 60 years of age and they would be the youngest to attend. This consideration has no definite answer at this point, but 2020 could possibly be the last Homecoming event scheduled – or nearly the last. So SHSAA officers are asking for alumni input as to whether or not they prefer a simpler dinner/dance event in 2020 or a dinner/dance cruise that will be only slightly more expensive.
“We strongly encourage SHS alums to visit our Facebook page and denote their preferred choice for Saturday evening, July 18, 2020. We also urge them to voice their opinions as soon as possible because we will need to make a definite decision either way by mid-September. We don’t need money or confirmation from those who want to attend right now; we just need to know which option they prefer so that a reservation can be made before either of the choices are booked by someone else,” Malone concluded.
If you wish to voice your opinion on the Homecoming 2020 plans, you can also attend the SHSAA’s next meeting to be held August 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at the Bice-Ferguson Museum.