More Than 100 of Earliest BHS Graduates to Reconvene June 21

June 13, 2023
Bedford High School Photo: Robert Dorer

The building that became Bedford High School opened in September 1955, housing students in grades 6-10. And even some fifth graders knew their way around; they moved in the previous winter to ease overcrowding at the elementary school.

More than 100 members of those first six graduating classes plan to gather in Bedford on Wednesday, June 21, to spend a few hours reconnecting, reminiscing, and revisiting their old high school. 

Ralph Hammond, retired educator and longtime community volunteer, is the driver behind the reunion. 

“This has been a thrill-and-a-half,” Hammond said. “It has been a real fun year putting this whole thing together. Just to know that these people are still alive – the old stories are unbelievable.” 

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“We want to keep it a low-key, simple program,” said Hammond, a 1963 BHS graduate. “The idea is to give everybody a reason to get together for two or three hours on a Wednesday afternoon.”

The primary gathering is planned for the Campus Center at Middlesex Community College from noon to 3 p.m. Then many of the participants will head over to their alma mater, where they will be greeted by Bedford High School Principal Heather Galante. Assistant Facilities Director Ron Scaltreto will lead a narrated campus tour.

“We’re going to have the old bell that they rang at Center School for lunchtime,” Hammond announced. The relic will be on loan from the Bedford Historical Society.

In the evening, Hammond said, members of the three oldest classes plan to dine at The Great Wall, while members of the classes of 1961, 1962, and 1963 have scheduled their dinner for American Legion Post 221.

Graduates will convene from many parts of the country, Hammond said, and the activities will accommodate persons with limited mobility. He also has prepared a book of biographies of the graduates attending.

A team of volunteers located 261 graduates, Hammond said; 106 could not be found. Forty-five people expressed interest, but were unable to attend, he said.

The idea for reconnecting members of the first six BHS classes “was sort of a fluke,” Hammond said. “Last June, Jim DiNitto and Bruce Blake organized a mini-reunion, mostly the Class of 1961. It was great to see those people.” One of those attending was a former teacher, Mrs. Bean – Hammond couldn’t recall her first name.

“Back when we came up with the idea, we said we would get maybe 30 or 40,” Hammond related. “The hardest group was the Class of 1958, as only about a third of them have email addresses. Many are not part of that culture.”

Hammond summarized the shared history of the members of the classes of 1958 through 1963.

In 1953, as work got underway for construction of a new junior high school, school officials learned that neither Concord nor Lexington would accept new high-school students from Bedford beginning in the fall of 1955.

So, in mid-project, he continued, plans were changed to expand to a high school. There are places where “you can see how the foundation was changed – it looks like a cut-through,” he said.

The building opened for students in grades 6-10 in September 1955, he said. But he also related what was going on nine months earlier.

“Some elementary school grades went on double session” because of overpopulation, he said. “The fifth-grade classes were jammed, and my class was the only one that stayed in the brick building (now Town Hall). All other fifth and sixth grades carried their own desks and chairs to brand new rooms” at the new junior-senior high, parts of which were still under construction. 

So, the first graduating class was 1958, and the town, and the student population, continued to grow. Hammond said his BHS class was the last one to number fewer than 100. 

In September 1969, Hammond began his teaching career at the former Center School, now Town Center. The student population was still growing – “when I got hired, they were hiring basically anybody who could stand up,” he laughed.

Hammond thanked several people for locating and organizing classmates: 

1958

  • David Webber, class president
  • Diane Flewelling Jenkins
  • Craig Dorman

1959

  • Marjorie Lord King, class president
  • Peter McNeany

1960

  • Ken Graves, class president
  • Bruce Blake
  • Jim DiNitto

1961

  • Jim McGovern, class president
  • Wilma Flewelling Buxton

1962

  • Ron Francey
  • Jackie Fay Stanton

1963

  • Karen Sousa Cardoos
  • Diane Zweil Lehder
  • Ralph Hammond.
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Karen Wanta Hillis
June 14, 2023 10:15 pm

My late sister, Marcella Wanta, was in the class of 1963. I hope the gathering brings back great memories for all. Karen Wanta Hillis, class of 1966

Nancy Bergin DuMont
June 13, 2023 9:44 pm

Great idea! Can you record any of it? If i lived nearby I’d be tempted to crash the party.

Bob
June 13, 2023 6:12 pm

Great idea! Thank you to all the organizers! Have fun everyone!

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