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Reunion organizers juggle classes

Staff writer

Larry Pankratz didn’t start juggling until after his days at Hillsboro High School.

A 1973 graduate, he’ll probably bust out his juggling equipment this weekend when he and his former classmates are in town for Hillsboro’s 23rd annual All-School Reunion.

Pankratz is one of 26 students from the class of 1973 expected to attend their reunion.

This year’s All-School Reunion honors five- and 10-year classes. Other classes also may attend, but the classes of 1953, 1958, 1963, 1973, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2013 have planned gatherings.

Jan Tingen, chairman of the All-School Reunion committee, said each class would have its own tables at a banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

“During the day, there are individual reunions,” she said. “For the dinner, we don’t have a program per se, but there are a few short presentations.”

The number of graduates who have signed up to attend the reunion is down this year, “which is weird because last year, we had a booming year,” she said. “But this year we have a 10-year class of 2013. We’ve never had as many young classes come, which we’re excited about.”

Pankratz has lived in Salina since 1987.

His favorite part of going to school in Hillsboro from kindergarten to his senior year is simple: “The size of the community and the school,” he said. “Everybody knew each other. We’re all friends. It’s going to be fun to see everyone. We’re going to have a pretty decent turnout.”

Pankratz thinks there were 56 students in his class. Five have died.

He’s been retired for two years after working in higher education and the telecommunications and natural gas industries.

He also ran Salina Housing Authority for a while.

Pankratz took up juggling 48 years ago. It’s but one of his hobbies. He started Salina’s four disc golf courses.

One of his grandfathers was known as the “Shoeman of Marion.” Meier’s Shoe Shop was situated across from Western Associates and, later, in a garage at his home on Cedar St.

“He went through the ’51 flood. He’s from Russia and was in the Russian revolution,” Pankratz said. “My mom and dad are both from Marion, but we moved to Hillsboro.”

Pankratz said his education in Hillsboro was bolstered by Tabor College.

“Having Tabor there, it gave us opportunities that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,” he said.

Activities for the All-School Reunion start Friday.

Last modified Sept. 7, 2023

 

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