Hundreds of people gathered at Puyallup High School last Friday and filled the gymnasium for the 92nd annual PHS alumni assembly.
“It speaks so highly that people come back and represent, and that students are willing to participate,” said Tim Yeomans, Puyallup School District superintendent. “It’s wonderful.”
Every December is alumni month at Puyallup High. The two-hour-long event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1962 and the 25th anniversary of the Class of 1987. A roll call of all classes in each decade was included.
Eugene Gambriel represented the oldest class of 1932.
ASB President Mason Fletcher, a senior, gave a purple-and-gold Vikings scarf to Gambriel, who was the first school ambassador, the student body president and a member of the football team and drama club during his time at the school.
“The alumni assembly connects those former classes that have crossed the bridge, and those new classes that are crossing the bridge now,” Fletcher said. “This is also a great opportunity for students to learn what other classes are doing today.”
The oldest known student is Charlie Pierson from the Class of 1928, but the 102-year-old wasn’t able to attend the assembly.
The Class of 1962 made a presentation and addressed what the headlines were during their year. Highlights included the opening of the Seattle World’s Fair in April 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis that fall.
As a thank you, the Class of 1962 donated $1,800 to the Viking Vanguard newspaper staff. The money will support the design of a new website for the newspaper.
Two men also received their high school diplomas from the Class of 1962. Puyallup High Principal Jason Smith presented them to Ken Fithen and his classmate, Ben Rhyner.
Back then, the two men were overseas, serving in the U.S. military, so they weren’t able to receive their diplomas.
New to the festivities in the past four years is the Winter Wishes program, coordinated by the PHS leadership class. Students collect monetary and in-kind donations from the public to help grant wishes for PHS students in need.
Lauren Adler, a 2007 graduate, helped to connect the alumni with the program and encourage them to donate. More than $3,700 was donated by alumni.
Jamie Mooring, the leadership class adviser, said 1,000 wishes were granted. There were $3,500 in gift cards given, she said. Other donations included 12 laptops, seven lettermen jackets, braces, two certificates for driver’s education, a bike, a snowboard, a prom package and a senior photo shoot.
Many of the wishes were granted during the assembly. Some students who came up to receive their gifts were surprised.
“It feels great,” said Andrew Punchak, a senior who received an acoustic guitar. “I really appreciated it.”
Mooring said one family in need received a $200 gift card. She invited the mother to come to the school to pick up the gift card, and the woman shed tears of joy when she left.
“Everybody is happy being involved,” Mooring said. “Even those students who just get a taco at Taco Bell are happy. It just makes their day.”
Smith said when Mooring introduced the Winter Wishes program four years ago, he was hesitant to see how it would be received. Since then, he said he has been happy with the continued numbers of wishes that have been granted.
“I give credit to (Mooring) and all the students that work on this,” Smith said.