An Ode to the Centralia Significant Faculty Class of 1970

By Gretchen Staebler  / For The Chronicle

Fifty-one decades in the past, the course of 1970 was the inaugural graduating course at the new Centralia High School.

And yes, we nonetheless simply call it that.

We collected in August to mark our milestone soon after the reunion committee — led by class president John Stiltner — labored 13 months of time beyond regulation to make confident it took place. Both equally the onset and the conclusion of our 50 a long time have been historically momentous.

Our arguably-beloved 3-tale, columned college was 50 several years aged when it was replaced in 1969. For the duration of senior calendar year, classmate Sam Mattix described the new faculty, synced with a slide present, in our team’s introduction on Channel 5’s Hi-Q:

“It is of contemporary crimson brick and metal design. Romanesque arches greet individuals coming into the college. Our significant commons spot serves as cafeteria, dance flooring and lounge place. The library options a sunken stack region, carpeting and the lavish use of normal wood. It is interesting to note that our gymnasium is the initial substantial college health club in the state to have mounted the new Tartan rubber health club ground.” (P.S. Our Hi-Q team was undefeated!)

Fifty a long time later, our next high faculty was renovated. (Certainly, sobering.) The Tartan ground is extensive long gone, and now far too are the arches, the commons — which includes the senior deck lounge, viewed by numerous as our payment for dropping the senior privilege of lunch off campus — and the sunken library.

Purely natural wooden has been uncovered. New construction cost $2.7 million. Renovation arrived at a price tag numerous moments the first price tag tag.

In 1970, the Beatles broke up, voting age was reduced to 18 and the Vietnam War was coming to a head. Protests heated up as the initial draft lottery given that Entire world War II was instituted and some of our class went to war.

Our Sam went to Laos peacefully as a Christian missionary, but was taken captive, traveling the Ho Chi Minh Path for 40 days, ending up in the Hanoi Hilton. Fifty-additionally-one many years afterwards we are preventing a different war: a pandemic that will not give up.

I ponder if there has been yet another class who had to wait around a yr to rejoice 50 collectively? We are a course of firsts.

As we collectively look back again on our many years given that graduation, we try to remember 44 classmates who no lengthier walk the earth. It would seem an inordinately big percentage of the 256 in our class. They cannot all be named in this article, but Pam Hatfield was the to start with, in a car or truck incident our junior 12 months.

It was the very first working experience of loss of life for numerous of us a youthful lady on the cusp of her lifetime, who was type to all people, gone.

In the a long time because, we have all encountered loss of life quite a few situations, but there is one thing daily life-changing about the very first, a peer. There was a coming together of our course to grieve as a single, to stroll in an orderly manner down the church aisle to say goodbye.

Fifty-moreover-a single several years ago, we walked as one particular again, down the new gymnasium Tartan ground, gained our diplomas, tossed our hats and went our many and diverse means.

Fifty decades of a everyday living, really significantly as we envisioned it to be or not at all as we anticipated it to be, have long gone.

Potentially no one particular saw the earlier year coming and we never know what the relaxation of our lives — or even the subsequent year — will keep.

But we will hold treasured the time still left and when we fulfill again, “sing to praise the honor of our combating orange and black.”


Gretchen Staebler returned to her hometown in 2012. She blogs about daily life and wandering in the Pacific Northwest at