By DENISE DICK
They came from as far away as California, some returning for the first time since graduating 56 years ago.
Members of the Ursuline High School Class of 1957 gathered Friday at the school for their 56th reunion weekend. It’s been seven years since they all got together, said Tony Calucchia of Pekin, Ill., who organized the event. The class member who used to coordinate reunions died, and no one else stepped up to fill the role.
He and some other class members decided last year that they wanted to resume the gatherings, but it was too late to organize one marking the 55th anniversary of their graduation, so they decided to wait a year.
“That’s why it’s an off-year,” Calucchia said.
He attended the event with this wife, Eleanor, a 1957 East High School graduate.
About 55 people were expected, with Ralph DeMain and his wife, Phyllis, and Eddie Ramm traveling the farthest, all from California.
They toured the school and ate lunch in the
cafeteria with the students and planned to attend the opening game of the football season against Walsh Jesuit High School and then meet at the MVR eatery. Today’s agenda includes golf, lunch at the home of one of the classmates and cocktails and dinner at the Holiday Inn in Boardman.
The tour brought back a lot of memories for the graduates.
Ursuline includes two sections joined together — the original built in 1925 and the “new” building constructed in 1955. The Class of 1957 was there while it was both a smaller school and after the newer portion was added.
The school has seen other changes, too. Annual
tuition, which used to be $80, now is $6,950, although many students receive some type of scholarships.
Calucchia most vividly remembers the nuns who taught his classes. Sister Alice Marie was the sweet, young art teacher. You didn’t mess with Sister
Margaret the history teacher or Sister Regina the chemistry teacher.
Sister Regina “always had her pointer, and she’d whack the boys,” he said with a laugh. “She was a good chemistry teacher, though, probably one of the best in the state.”
Tom Carey, who would go on to be the school principal, was the football coach when Calucchia was a player. Carey died earlier this month at age 93.
The 1956 season was the first time the Irish went undefeated, and the football boosters club bought Carey a new Chevrolet station wagon to mark the accomplishment, Calucchia said. Carey was the father of nine daughters.
Mary Ann O’Neil of Youngstown and Sally Grace of Canfield got T-shirts made for the reunion for themselves and their husbands.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest of them all?” it reads on the front, with “Irish Ever After. The Reign Continues. BEAT Mooney” on the back.
Grace was in a store in Girard, saw the shirts and decided she wanted one, so she called O’Neil to see if she wanted one, too. The two women met in grade school and attended Ursuline and Youngstown State University together.
Friday was the first time Dennis Sullivan of Pawleys
Island, S.C., had been back in the high school since graduation. He went into the Marines shortly after. But the tour brought back a lot of memories. He had played basketball in the gymnasium, which now is the auditorium where theater productions are presented.
The hallway leading to the auditorium features photographs of casts from some of the productions over the years, and at the front is a photograph of
Sister Rosemarie Deibel, who was the theater and speech teacher.
“I had a terrible stuttering problem, and she broke me of it,” Sullivan said.
She worked with him on his “wh” sounds, to help him overcome the disorder.
“I’m so thankful to her,” he said.
He had a career in corporate sales and marketing, and without Sister Rosemarie’s help, he would have had to pursue a different career.
Calucchia believes it’s important for the classmates to stay connected. “It’s like a family here,” he said.