Taking a tour of St. Florian School was a trip down memory lane for 30 alumni who recently reunited for the first time in 15 years.
Members of St. Florian’s eighth-grade graduating class of 1963 came together a few weeks ago at Steve’s Lounge and Banquet Hall in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood. A total of 30 of the original graduates attended, bringing along their spouses and significant others.
Mike Skowronek, a family friend of my in-laws and one of the reunion committee members, said everything went wonderful and classmates had a great time.
“A lot of folks came up to us at the reunion to say thank you and say how much work we did. The committee members talked afterward and said it was a lot of work but we had nothing but fun.”
It all started in late 2011 when classmate Bob Waninski sent an email saying that the 50-year mark was approaching and they should plan a reunion.
Skowronek agreed and recruited the committee including classmates Bob and Joan Waninski, Ted and Barb Targonski, Mike Faron and Jim Ciciora.
The reunion kicked off with 4 p.m. Mass at St. Florian Church in Hegewisch. The current pastor then gave the alumni a tour of the school.
“We went into the old school which was above the church,” Skowronek said, noting the school has added a new building since their time there as students.
“I guess the furniture was a little different,” he said. “When we went to school, the desks were permanently attached to the floors and now they have the stand alone style.”
Some of their former classrooms were going through a rehab but they also saw some that are still in use.
“I was talking to the pastor and thanking him for giving us the tour. I joked, 'you’ve been here about a year and a half and we came here for nine straight years. We should give you a tour.' “
After the tour it was onto the reunion at Steve’s where the classmates and guests had dinner, drinks and danced.
They did a lot of dancing, Skowronek said, to songs that were hot in 1963 including “The end of the world” by Skeeter Davis.
During dessert, they played a movie put together by committee member Ted Targonski.
He gathered photos from as many graduates as possible and combined them with music and 8 mm film footage of different school events.
The committee was able to locate many of the original '63 class members although eight have passed away. Nine still live in Hegewisch, Skowronek said, including himself.
The 30 attendees came from throughout the Midwest and even as far away as San Diego. The award for farthest traveled went to Carl Klimek, who traveled from his home in Sydney, Australia.
“We got a hold of him early enough," Skowronek said. “He does come back every few years and he planned his visit to coincide with the reunion.”
It sounds like everyone had a great time getting back together with old friends and remembering their days at St. Florian.