School pride soars as classes gather


Pride in Clear Lake Schools was running high Saturday, as alumni gathered at the Surf Ballroom for the 3rd Annual CLHS All Class Reunion.

“How lucky we were to grow up in this community and attend school here,” said Mary (Furleigh) Woerner, who was honored as a Distinguished Alumni  at the event.  “Whenever I consider all the talented people to have gone through the Clear Lake School System, this is not only an honor, but a miracle.”

Among the four generations of Furleighs to attend Clear Lake Schools was Phyllis Furleigh Pederson, a member of the CLHS Class of 1943.  In anticipation of reuniting with some of her classmates 70-years after their graduation, Phyllis shared with her cousin that her class did not have the honor of formally receiving diplomas.  With the turmoil of wartime in 1943, the senior class was simply given white paper scrolls tied with a red, white and blue ribbon.

Organizers of this years’ All Class Reunion surprised seven members of the Class of ‘43 with specially created diplomas which were presented during the reunion program by School Board President Mark Tesar.

“I handed out 125 diplomas in May, but apparently I missed a few,” Tesar joked with the audience.  He then proceeded to award framed certificates to Pederson, Keith Steege, Jim Merwin, Jeanne Bailey, Arlene Wood, Iris Nelson and Jean Bieber.

“Like those today who remember where they were when they heard about 9/11, our class heard President Roosevelt declare war on Germany,” said Phyllis Pederson.

Jeanne Bailey and Arlene (Wood) Barber said they were touched by the special presentation.  

“It’s been a terrific evening and so great to get together with classmates,” said Barber, who lives in Clear Lake.

Bailey said she also recalls receiving the paper roll as a temporary diploma.  She proudly admired the framed piece she received Saturday.  “It’s been wonderful to be back and I’m remembering all the fun we used to have,” said the Kansas City resident.

The recent achievements of the CLHS baseball team were also highlighted during the program, with Coach Seth Thompson and several members of the team receiving a standing ovation from graduates as they took the stage.  Coach Thompson shared highlights which led his comeback kids to the school program’s first state title.  Thompson was also thrilled to be able to confirm that the 1965 Lion team was the last to win a conference title.

Members of the Clear Lake Community School Foundation which sponsors the All Class Reunion were pleased with attendance and did their best to ensure all guests had a great time reuniting.  They also shared the message that the event also serves as a vehicle to promote scholarships for Clear Lake students. 

“Reminisce with each other, but remember that part of this event is to raise funds for graduating high school seniors,” said Mike Bainter, who along with Bob Elsbury emceed the event.  The pair brought out the Lion mascot, who invited alumni onto the dance floor.  “When the Lion asks you to dance, give $1 if you can.  And if you’re feeling fit and healthy, give $2,” said Bainter.

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