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Gering Class of ’66 meets for 50th
July 07, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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The year 1966 was pivotal. President Johnson was pressing the Vietnam War. The Beatles, with their unusually long hair for the time, were all over the music charts. Gering High School in its brand new building was preparing to graduate its first class of seniors.

On July 1 and 2, about 47 of them returned to Gering to see friends from their youth, reminisce about high school life, and catch up on where their paths led them into the future.

“We had a total of 115 graduates,” said Natalie Kramer of Scottsbluff (then Natalie Runyan), who was one of the Class of 1966. “Fifteen have passed on, so about 47 of us are still around. That’s a pretty good percentage.”

The new high school building on U Street was surrounded by open space, as many of the town’s subdivisions were yet to be platted.

“We’d spent three years in the old high school building and it had a lot of history about it,” Kramer said. “It was like the sky had opened up for me when we went to a new school at the edge of town with wide open spaces.”

She added it was like going from history into new technology, complete with a new sound system, larger gymnasium, even cushioned seats in the auditorium.

Another major change over the years has been in dress standards.
Kramer remembered when the dress code was much stricter – from dress length for girls to hair length for boys. T-shirts, jeans, shorts were also banished.

“The dress code was very structured, but we didn’t know anything other than that,” she said. “It was just considered part of the curriculum.”

Kramer said at their 45th reunion, they recruited a classmate to put together a 35-minute PowerPoint presentation of the class, sharing their photos and memories. The show was included for the group’s reunion last weekend.

Also attending the reunion were several teachers who taught the Class of 1966. Principal Henry Meter was there, along with teachers Myrt Van Newkirk, Dick Orr, Bill Leyton, and a new student teacher (at the time) named John Harms, who later was President of Western Nebraska Community College, as well as a State Senator.

Starting with a Friday picnic, classmates visited the high school before a banquet at the Gering Civic Center.

“We also celebrated the lives of the 15 classmates who were with us for so short a time,” Kramer said. “We had a memory room with memorabilia collected by our classmates. It was quite a memorable time for us.”
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