By Steve Svetovich
The Scranton Central Class of 1978 celebrated its 40th reunion this past Labor Day weekend at the Waldorf Tiki Bar in the East Mountain section of the city.
There were over 100 in attendance. And this scribe was one of them.
The only drawback was that it took over 40 years to become a member of the class.
How is that?
Those who know this scribe well will remember me as a member of the Scranton Prep Class of 78′.
Well the truth be known, I attended Robert Morris Elementary School and North Scranton Junior High School with many members of the Scranton Central Class of 78′.
Nothing against my classmates at Scranton Prep, or the school, itself, but most who grew up with me know that I wanted to go to Scranton Central. In fact, I was enrolled to go there both as a sophomore and junior.
But I always went back to Prep, where fortunately 24 college credits were earned.
Still, the dream was to go to Scranton Central with my childhood friends. I took the Prep test, got a partial scholarship and succumbed to my parents’ wishes.
Throughout the whole time, there were thoughts of transferring to Scranton Central, but it never happened.
I wanted to please my parents and I served as the guinea pig, the only one ever in my family to graduate from Scranton Prep. My sister and brother, both younger than me, are Scranton Central graduates.
And this is written with all due respect to Scranton Prep, its teachers, administrative staff and the friends I made there. I even worked one year there as a janitor right after I graduated and attended the University of Scranton as a freshman.
And my late mom was a proud tuba player at Scranton Tech. She even had a brother who went to Scranton Tech and eventually went on to receive a master’s degree in physics from Harvard University.
Well, five years ago my great friends from North Scranton Junior High School, Geri Mackarevich and Grace Opshinsky, invited me as their guest to the 35th Scranton Central reunion at the Waldorf Tiki Bar.
It was like stepping back in time, seeing my old childhood friends and reminiscing. For five hours we were all back in the 70’s.
Shortly after that, the committee for the class reunion decided to put me on the list for Scranton Central’s 40th reunion. Special thanks to Donna Sacoolidge Van Fleet and Mary Jo Devereau for that nice gesture. They knew I grew up with this group and wanted to make me a part of it.
And so, this year Donna and Mary Jo made sure I was invited to the 40th at the Waldorf Tiki Bar who catered the five-hour event with a delicious food buffet.
Donna was on me all summer to attend. She didn’t have to push too hard.
I attended the reunion with my lady friend Brenda Cavalier Cosgrove, a Lakeland High School graduate. We had a great time as many of my old friends surrounded our table throughout the night.
DJ Danny Keeler, another friend of mine, provided the music as we all danced throughout the night.
At one point, my Robert Morris Elementary School classmates, Wes Parker, Danny Lavelle, Bill Ferkile and Teddy Matthews and I were all encircled, reminiscing about our grade school days playing king ball, kick ball and Green Ridge Little League baseball.
My former Green Ridge Teener League teammate and North Scranton Junior High buddy Joe Berardelli was there with his wife Anne, sitting with us. We are still great friends to this day and see each other throughout the summer months.
My former North Scranton Junior High class members Sharon Petrillo Meier and Marylou Gerrity Grogan, former cheerleaders, were there socializing with everyone in sight just like they did in school. And both look the same. Not much has changed with some of us.
Lavelle, Ferkile and Tony Torquato, another old friend from North Scranton Junior High, all came up from Florida.
Lavelle, a Navy submarine veteran, was still his jovial self, telling stories about his days living in The Plot section of Green Ridge, days in the service, and new life in Florida. Always bringing life to every situation and telling it like it is with humor. That’s Danny.
Ferkile was the same cordial, witty guy with the pleasant demeanor I met in first grade at Robert Morris Elementary School. And he loves Tampa, Florida, where he and his family make their home.
Wes Parker, my great childhood friend from both Robert Morris and North Scranton and former baseball teammate, was the first to greet me. Same old Wes. Looks the same. Nothing changed in his personality. Humble, with nothing ever bad to say about anyone. So easy to get along with and a friend for life. He was the guy who was always trying to get me to transfer to Scranton Central.
“The committee does such a great job planning this reunion,” said Marylou Gerrity Grogan, whose late dad William Gerrity, was a legendary teacher and coach at North Scranton for many years.
“A lot of classmates came to this reunion who have not attended in a long time. It was wonderful seeing them. It was amazing how we were able to just reconnect.
“It was just a wonderful night.”
Donna, Mary Jo, Lori Lucke and others did such a nice job preparing for the event.
“The Scranton Central Class of 78′ was always a close group,” said Donna Sacoolidge Van Fleet. “At the time, we did not realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun. How wonderful it was to walk down memory lane 40 years later.
“Golden Eagles forever.”
Members of the Scranton Central Class of 78′ who attended included Nancy Burns, Carol Cader, Nancy Chaney, Clare Corbett, Lori Dainty, Diane Dallolio, Gene Delucy, Frank Demola, Mary Jo Devereau, Susan Dodd, Martin Dwyer, Steve Eshelman, Lynne Fazio, Jay Felins, Bill Ferkile, Ann Fitzpatrick, Maureen Flynn, Mark Gallucci, Robbie Gavern, Mike Genello, Dawn Lindenberg, Joe Lotz, Larry Mark, Teddy Matthews, Sara Wadika McAndrew, Jim and Mary Rose McDonnel, Sharon Meier, Mart Anne Merli, John Mitchell, Diane Mitchell, Mike Molinaro, Bob Norton, Lisa Padula, Wes Parker, Linda Price, John Ruby, Tony Sabatell, Thomas Sabatini, Ted Sabatini, Ed Schirra, Chuckie Schneider, Mary Jo Searfoss, Mary Jane Shimsky, Nancy Sier, Anne Marie Trotta, Donna Van Fleet, Stacy Willis, Sue Rogers, Tony Torquato, Cathy Shoder, Chris Baron, Joe Berardelli, Ann Gillman, Donna Gower, Jim Granahan, Marylou Grogan, Anne Haddix, Ann Colleen Hellerman, Carol Hordesky, Mike King, Marge Kornfield, Danny Lavelle, Richard Leidinger, Tydvil Leoncini and Ellen Leviathan.
At one point during the reunion, the Class of 78′ had a moment of silence for over 20 class members who passed away. It was a somber, touching moment as the late classmates were remembered.
This scribe was lucky enough to win a six-pack of IPA beers with a chance purchased on the way in.
“And he doesn’t even belong here,” joked Wes Parker.
Well, Wes, you always tried to get me into Scranton Central.
Finally, after 40 plus years, I belong as a member of the Scranton Central Class of 78′.
Thank you, Donna, and all the rest. Looking forward to many more reunions with this very special group.