Blast from the past at OLPH for Class of 1971

September 9, 2011 Heather Chin
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It is back-to-school school time for today’s students andback-to-work time for the rest of us – except for nearly 200 formergrammar schoolers from Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in SunsetPark who will be returning to their alma mater this fall tocelebrate their 40th reunion.

On Saturday, October 8, at 6 p.m., OLPH’s Class of 1971 will beflying, driving and walking into Notre Dame Hall at Fifth Avenueand 59th Street to walk down the same halls where their 13-year-oldselves learned – and were disciplined.

OLPH is special because of the nuns – the meanness andstrictness of the nuns, laughed Alice Smith-Gaske, who graduatedfrom Brooklyn not too long after graduating from OLPH and now livesin upstate New York and has two daughters and three grandsons.They made us learn. There was no sitting back and saying you don’twanna. It was a great Catholic upbringing. I have seen reunions forhigh schools, but never a 40th year reunion from a grammarschool.

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At least one of those nuns will be in attendance, as SisterJudith, a teacher at OLPH, will be stopping by along with anotherone-time educator at the school, Mr. Milton.

The reunion will feature catered food, favors, raffles, karaokedecorations and an Oktoberfest theme, if only because it’s inOctober, said Ellen Maresca (née Healy), who co-organized theevent with a group of around 10 fellow alums and friends whodecided around a year ago to stop talking about want[ing] to gettogether for coffee and just go ahead and do it. Coffee will beserved, but alcohol was too cost-prohibitive, so it is BYOB.

We all went through it together and it changes your life, so tospeak, said Maresca. When we went back a few years ago [for ajoint 50th birthday celebration], into the hall, we weren’t 50, wewere 13. That’s the great thing. We want to share that with thepeople who missed it.

At 53 and 54 years old, many of the members of the Class of 1971are now parents and grandparents themselves. So the chance to havefun and feel like kids again is something they are really lookingforward to. Several alums are even going to make a weekend of it,flying in, picking one another up, visiting Coney Island for aNathan’s hot dog and staying in a suite together.

I am most looking forward to seeing a close friend I haven’tseen in 32 years and I’m going to meet so many of my new friendsthrough Facebook, said Maresca. It’s going to be exciting. It’sreally a bunch of old people getting together for the weekend.We’re very rowdy.

Tickets are $35 per person. So far nearly 100 alums have RSVP’dand everyone from the Class of 1971 is invited, as are theirguests. There are people coming in from as close as Bay Ridge andLong Island and as far away as Arizona.

RSVP is requested by September 15. For more information or topurchase tickets, contact Ellen Maresca at 845-361-4248 or by emailat [email protected]. If you are still in the New York City areaand don’t want to call long-distance, call Laura Clendenny-Camielat 718-886-4012. Checks can be sent to Ellen Maresca, 94 Last Road,Middletown, NY 10914.

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