PCS Class of 79
30 Year Reunion - July 10 & 11, 2009

  The History of The Class of 79
by J.P. Reynolds - Class Historian

Most of the PCS Class of 1979 were gestating in their mothers’ wombs when John F. Kennedy became president in 1961.  Hope was high in the nation and things were good in the small town of Portville, New York.

The Baby Boom was still rolling, and a record number of toddlers were scattered across the town.  Many of the cloth-diapered 79ers had parents and grand-parents who were PCS graduates.  Some of these parents were friends, co-workers, neighbors, or fellow church-goers, and interaction between the young 79ers began.  Some had relatives and clans around town, while others were fairly new to the area.

In September 1966, 108 of these classmates entered Kindergarten at PCS, the largest ever in Portville’s history.  47 of these kids eventually left the class, while the remaining 61 students ended up graduating from the school.  Over the ensuing 12 years, another 78 young people were added to the Class of ’79.

The Vietnam War was escalating when K teachers Mrs. Slocum, Miss Cady, Mrs. Cannan, Mrs. Clark, and Mrs. Goodrich helped the bunch acclimate to public education.  Some of their school rooms were located in the high school, while others moved into the brand new elementary building.

During 1966-7, Bob Klucik coached the Panther wrestling team to its first of many undefeated seasons.  Ray DeLand took over the varsity basketball team, and Mike Pascarella and Jane Meermans joined the PCS staff that year.  Elvis, Johnny Cash, and The Beatles played over the airwaves of WMNS, WHDL, and WKBW.

Original class member Joe Caya recalls, “That’s when we slept on cots for nap time after lunch.  Me and Steve Elderkin would crawl around underneath everyone and mess with girls like Sherry Cradduck, Kay Payne, and Cindy Harrison.  It was called the Summer of Love, but we didn’t like girls then.”

During first grade, John Dubots became the elementary principal, and Gerard Christopher became the high school principal under Superintendent Lee Frair, ushering in a new era.  PCS added 13 new teachers in 1967, including Chuck Bretzin, Mike O’Brien, Barb Phillips, Mary Lu Harrison, and Mrs. Aiken. The first grade teachers were Mrss. Schultz, Jurenko, Minderler, Scott, Welch, and Ensell.  The 6 classrooms were the most ever for one grade, and space in the building was tight.

In 1968, the nation witnessed ant-war demonstrations, race riots, social revolution, and assassinations, but the young 79ers were largely oblivious to the increasing changes in the bigger world.  

1968 was also the year that Dave Rutterman learned how to read and write.  “Looking back at it, the experience was almost like being in a Nazi youth camp for seven hours each day,” notes Dave.  “I couldn’t wait to get home and then go get ice cream at Spring Hill.”

The second grade teachers for 1968-9 were Vivian Marsh, Margaret Organ, Joyce Cughan, Nancy McIntosh, and Olive Delong.  Leo Schott became a school board member that year, and Marie Snyder began to teach art.  Many of the class members joined Cub Scouts or Brownies.  One of the big male events was the Pinewood Derby.

In August 1969, the Woodstock Festival came to the Twin Tiers, and some of the 8 year olds took more notice of rock music just when the Fab Four were about to break up.  Also that summer, the USA put the first man on the moon, but more importantly, neighbors Jim Reynolds and Wimpy Swetland bought the Irish Basin in Obi.

That August, Pee Wee football and cheerleading started for the 79er boys and girls.  The four town teams were sponsored by Dean’s Market, the Fire Department, Fibercel, and the Men’s Club.

Doc Harrison joined the school board in 1969-70, while the third grade teachers included Miss McPherson, Mrs. Lafever, Miss Kron, Mrs. Juvenal, Miss Brennan, and Mrs. White.  The wrestling team increased their winning streak to 55 matches, and this resulted in a big turn-out of young AAU grapplers during this era.

1970 saw Buffalo establishing both the Sabres and Braves pro teams, while OJ Simpson and the Electric Company put the Bills on the map.  Unfortunately, the Attica prison riot of 1971 also turned the eyes of the nation toward Western New York.

The 4th grade class (1970-1) was divided by reading levels into 6 groups.  Rookie teacher Mrs. Richmond had the accelerated Group F.  It was the year when Dave Dunbar, Mike McCann, and Linda Larder started their long tenures at PCS.  

(To Be Continued....)

© 2009 Pan-Con