WHS Class of 1960 gives back to its alma mater

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Janet Smith (left) and Ethel Boggs (center), were among the members of the Washougal High School Class of 1960 who made contributions that totalled $4,000 for the Washougal Schools Foundation. WSF President Ernie Suggs (right) accepted the donation on Wednesday.

It was a demonstration of true Panther Pride.

Reunion organizers for the Washougal High School class of 1960 wanted to do something special to mark its 50-year milestone.

They began with the idea of collecting a couple thousand dollars for student scholarships at the high school. From there, reunion organizers including Ethel Boggs and Janet Smith were put into contact with representatives from the Washougal Schools Foundation, which provides grants for teachers throughout the district.

“It was exactly what we were looking for,” said Boggs, who still lives in Washougal and has three grown children who are also WHS graduates.

Alum Louis Munch, a retired teacher now living in Port Townsend, Wash., hopped on board to lead the charge with great enthusiasm.

“When he was a teacher, he benefitted from some of these small grants,” Smith said. “He really knew firsthand what this kind of money could do.”

Correspondence was sent to all members of the class of 1960.

“In the letter, we said ‘no amount is too small, or too large,” Smith said.

And the class responded, and then some, amassing a total of $4,000 that will benefit the WSF. The non-profit organization provides major and mini-grants to teachers in the Washougal School District for programs and projects that are not supported by state and local funding channels. The monies directly benefit students in the classroom.

WSF President Ernie Suggs said he was impressed with the contribution.

“It’s such a great thing,” Suggs said. “It really shows the loyalty of the community.”

The Class of 1960’s reunion was held July 17, and included a banquet at the Holiday Inn at the Portland International Airport and a picnic at the Parker’s Landing Historical Park in Washougal.

About half of the class of 100 graduates turned out for the 50-year reunion, including the students’ favorite teacher Vi Medak, 82, who drove from Seattle for the festivities.

The students remain close, even five decades later.

“We started kindergarten together and we were pretty much together until we graduated,” Smith said. “Now we’re getting old together.”

For the past 10 years, members of the class of 1960 have gotten together once a month for lunch. They also participate in the annual WHS Old Timers reunions, which include members of the classes of 1967 and earlier.

“I think it took us 40 years to realize we’re all the same,” Boggs said. “We just have fun together. We’ve all had our ups and downs.”

She is proud of her Panther roots.

“I had at least one child in the Washougal School District for 28 years, which not a lot of people can say,” said Boggs, whose children are separated by an age difference of 15 years. “I’m really proud of that.”

Now, Boggs, Smith and the rest of the Class of 1960 are challenging other WHS classes who may be coming together for their own reunions this summer and fall to meet or beat that $4,000 contribution to the WSF. Smith wants that Panther pride to spread.

“We hope we started something.”