The Class of 1964 honored at OCHS graduation

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Members of the Ocean City High School Class of 1964 were honored during the graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2014 on Friday, June 20. From left are Andrea Siviy, Susan Palermo Fischer, Joanne Hartman Pancoast, Jackie Beddow DiBease, Joyce Palermo Power, Susan Rumer Peifer, Frank Mazzetelli, Ken Trauger, Harry Housand, Donna Simpson, Don Wiesenthal and George Rumer. 
Members of the Ocean City High School Class of 1964 were honored during the graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2014 on Friday, June 20. From left are Andrea Siviy, Susan Palermo Fischer, Joanne Hartman Pancoast, Jackie Beddow DiBease, Joyce Palermo Power, Susan Rumer Peifer, Frank Mazzetelli, Ken Trauger, Harry Housand, Donna Simpson, Don Wiesenthal and George Rumer. OCEAN CITY —On June 10, 1964, Ocean City High School graduated 137 seniors. Eager to take on the world, the Class of ’64 accepted their diplomas and sailed off to new adventures.

Fifty years later, a group of them returned to their alma mater to witness 303 members of the Class of 2014 graduate. Seated as guests of honor on the football field at Carey Stadium on Friday, June 20, school officials honored them.

“At Ocean City High School we have a special tradition,” said Christine Lentz, athletic director and assistant principal at OCHS, as she introduced each of the returning graduates.

Graduates said it was a very special moment.

“It was bittersweet,” said Joanne Hartman Pancoast. “I felt so proud of our beautiful school and its graduates, sad to no longer be a part of it, but happy to have once been!”

After graduation, Pancoast went to college, returning to Ocean City High School a few years later to teach French.

“Teaching for 32 years made returning for the graduation ceremony and being honored even more special,” said Pancoast.

In 1964, graduation was held at the Ocean City Music Pier. Pat Schwartz was the Valedictorian and Fred Klein the Salutatorian. Pancoast graduated number three and delivered a speech at graduation.

“I was very nervous!” she recalled. The speech, she said, was about democracy and as she recalls “very boring.”

Watching the students walk across the football field in red and white gowns brought back a lot of memories, the graduates said.

“Our OCHS years were wonderful,” said Pancoast. She recalled the annual tradition of building floats for the Halloween Parade.

“We often did it in parents’ garages,” she said, recalling the fun of working together to build something spectacular.

The Class of ’64 came of age during a particularly turbulent time in the history of the United States. The Vietnam War was raging and students were asked to get under their desks for atomic bomb drills.

In November, 1963, in their senior year, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

“They announced it in school and that afternoon we had to have pictures taken for the yearbook,” said Pancoast. “That was tough.”

Pancoast said she has many happy memories, as a student and a teacher. Donkey basketball stands out, and talent shows. Student/faculty activities were at one time “very common.”

Back in the day, Pancoast said, OCHS was rarely closed for flooding and snow.

“We had to drive over the bridge, even when it was icy,” she said.

Pancoast said she felt blessed.

“I worked with a fun-loving, dedicated faculty and students who made the job fun and satisfying,” she said.

Susan Betty Rumer Peifer said the invitation to be a part of the program was much appreciated.

“They really do a great job, they kids speeches were wonderful,” she said. “It was very special.”

Peifer said the Class of ’64 started freshman year many more students than they ended up with senior year. When they started in 1960, students from Somers Point and Linwood attended OCHS. In 1961, the new Mainland Regional High School opened its doors and they lost many students.

“Things were a lot different,” she said. 

“My classmates all say we were so lucky to grow up in Ocean City when we did and attend a great high school, with wonderful teachers,” she said.

The graduates fondly remembered the OCHS boys’ basketball team winning a Group II State basketball championship in 1964. There was a big parade and students celebrated long into the night.

“Here it is 50 years later,” said Peifer. “Our reunion will be on Oct. 11 at the Flanders, it hardly seems possible.”

The new OCHS, opened in the fall of 2004, sits where the old Youth Center used to be.

“We spent our Friday and Saturday nights there,” she said. Recreation Director Don Pileggi, she said, “kept us all in line.”

The Class of ’64, she noted, donated the large OCHS letters that sit outside the back of the school, overlooking the track and football field a few years ago. The class has made its mark in more ways than one.

“I love every time there is a picture of students around them,” she said. “Our class just wanted to do something to kind of bridge the old school with the new.”

Alumnus Doug Bonner crafted the letters. Doug's father, the late Joe Bonner, was an English teacher at OCHS for many years.

Harry Housand attended with his wife, Wendy, who graduated in 1967.

“What a beautiful June afternoon sitting the football field waiting for the OCHS class of 2014 to come marching in to Pomp and Circumstance,” he said. “It was the same music we marched into 50 years ago!”

Housand said he was overcome by the passage of time.

“Wow, 50 years, it doesn't seem possible,” he said.

During the ceremony, he said he closed his eyes for just a moment, envisioning the Class of ’64 marching in to Carey Stadium.

“What wonderful memories we have, each and every one of us,” he said. For just for that one moment, stepping back in time he said he imagined the Class of ‘64 receiving their diplomas all over again.

“Thank you OCHS class of 2014 for letting us take this step back in time,” he said with a big smile.

Peifer had a few words of advice to the newly minted graduates.

“To the class of 2014, know that your friendships made in high school can and will endure through the years and mean so much even after 50 years,” she said. “Good luck to each graduate as you make your life the best it can be, it is all up to you.”


 

Related: 

Ocean City celebrates the class of 2014

Ocean City celebrates class of 2014 (photos) 

Graduation is a beginning


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