The Wheatley School 50th
Anniversary Celebration Final Report
The Wheatley School, 11 Bacon Road, Old Westbury, New York, 11568,
celebrated its 50th Anniversary over the course of the weekend of
October 20-22, 2006. This Final Report summarizes the planning, events,
and outcome of that milestone occasion.
Planning for the event began in 2003, with Principal Rick Simon and
Assistant Principal Jim O’Brien presiding over a dozen or more
productive, two-hour meetings. The first major decision was to hold the
event in the fall of 2006, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the
commencement of classes in the current building. Prior thereto, classes
had been held on the second floor of The Willets Road School. The second
major decision, more difficult than it sounds, was to choose the
particular weekend. Although all secular and religious holidays were
avoided, several alumni were unable to attend because they were visiting
their children at colleges that had pre-ordained these days as “Visiting
Weekend.” There were no other significant scheduling conflicts.
The third major decision was to hold the event at the school itself. The
fourth and final major decision was the following schedule:
Friday - 10/20/06
||Open house at the school; tours
and visiting; career panels.
||Reserved for individual class
Saturday - 10/21/06
||Home athletic events.
reception; alumni art show; alumni athletes event.
||Formal ceremony in the
||Meet-and-Greet for each class,
in individual classrooms.
||Buffet dinner in and around the
||Live music by faculty and alumni
bands in the gymnasium.
Sunday - 10/22/06
Word of the event was spread
primarily via e-mail by a network of “Class Captains” and by a page on
the district’s website,
which included a downloadable registration form. On-line registration
was deemed technically unfeasible, but should be considered for future
All events occurred essentially as planned. Each of the four career
panels featured approximately a dozen alumni, representing such fields
as law, medicine, social work, engineering, music, and psychology.
Friday evening, thirty-one classes held private gatherings. Many classes
met at restaurants, particularly Italian (Gino’s, Borelli’s, Pappa Razzi,
Buonogusto). The younger crowds opted for drinking establishments
(Heartland Brewery, Dublin Pub, Town Tavern, etc.).
Such local haunts as Hilderbrandt's,
TR's, and The Wheatley Hills Golf Club were pressed into service.
The Buckner family
opened the doors of their ancestral home to the classes of 1965, 1967,
1968, 1972 and 1975. Robert Murphy treated his 1963 classmates to a
sumptuous meal at The George Washington Manor. Michael Dubb hosted a
private party for The Class of 1974 at Meadowbrook Pointe, complete
with a comedy routine by Carol Leifer.
Pam Reese Dyer, 1966, in
Huntington Station, and Lance Manning, 1977, in Manhattan, presided over
intimate gatherings on their home turf.
Saturday’s Formal Ceremony featured Norman Boyan, Wheatley’s first
principal, speaking via video from California; welcoming speeches by
Rick Simon, David Wasserman (President of the Board of Education)
Carolyn Harris (Superintendent of Schools); addresses by other past
principals (including Walter “Wes” Wathey, 1961-1979, and Michael
Glennon, 1980-1990), alumni, and two seniors; and music by a combined
student-alumni chorus and orchestra. The late night festivities were
capped off with live Rock & Roll from Pedagogue, comprised exclusively of
Wheatley faculty and staff, and Spontaneous Combustion, formed,
appropriately, by the East Williston Volunteer Fire Department,
featuring the guitar wizardry of Ken Lang, 1967, and the soulful singing
of Steve Jones, 1984.
Former District Dietician Mazie Z. Plain was not available to feed the
masses, so an outside catering establishment was brought in.
Sunday’s walk-a-thon-ers traipsed through the community, from The North
Side School to The Willets Road School and back to The Wheatley School,
and raised more than $15,000 for six charities devoted to caring
ailing children and similar causes.
All told, over a thousand people thronged Alma Mater. The school
received approximately 850 pre-registration forms from alumni, former
and current faculty (approximately fifty) and administrators, and
parents. Another 100 people registered on-site. Adding in spouses and
significant others, total attendance (not counting then-current
students, many of whom assisted in diverse ways) was in the 1,350 range.
The oldest person to attend may well have been 92-year-old Mary Nelson,
mother of Steven, Class of 1958, and Peter, Class of 1961. Expatriate alumni attended from the
following European nation-states: England, Scotland,
All attendees received a senior-photo identification card and a DVD of
Wheatley’s history (“A Look Back in Time”) compiled by faculty member
Steven Heilbrunn. The event turned a small profit; the proceeds were
used for certain hallway beautification projects, including the framing
and hanging of
class group portraits taken Saturday
evening, in the "band room," by a professional photography studio.
School spirit apparently runs in families. Three alumni-siblings from
the following families attended: Artim;
Bergtraum (plus parent); Berman
(12 Horseshoe Ln.); Brescia (plus parent); Brosowsky (plus parent); Cafaro;
Cohn (122 Ludwig
Ln.); Cooper (24 Hastings Rd.); Engoron; Gnatowsky; Goldstein (15 Sherwood Ln.);
Gould (1 Shepherd Ln.); Greenbaum; Heffner; Hegyi; Kent (4 Westwood Ci.
/ 7 Meadowbrook Ln.); Korn (36
Westwood Ci.); Landsberg; Lerner (115
Percheron Ln.); Ludwig; Mok; Moritz; Nordlinger; Oppenheim (14
Ln.); Reich (61 Woodhollow Rd.) (plus parent); Sansone (260 Arlington
St.); Schaffel; Stellato (111
Roselle St.); Vincze.
Not to be outdone, the following families were represented by four
Walsh (68 Shadetree Ln.)
Wolf (168 Glenmore St.)
Attendance was taken. The classes most heavily represented were those
from 1960 through 1980:
The Class of 1966 modestly hypothesizes that their award-winning
attendance was partly due to marketing the event as the 40th-year
reunion for their class.
The Class of 1973's Friday night
gathering was their first reunion of any kind ever.
The registration forms provided a wealth of contact and other
information. Seventeen students and two faculty members asked that their
names not be posted on the district website in advance of the weekend.
One person was “sorry for the coffee stains. I’m not really a slob.”
Another noted that there were two people with his name in his class; he
was the tall, skinny one; “I’m still tall, but no longer so skinny.”
Four alumni, all 50-years-old or older, registered twice, three of them
apparently having paid in duplicate.
Registrants asserted the following “special dietary needs”:
Reprising high school, the wags went to work. One registrant’s special
dietary need was “some food.” One ordered “caviar.” And one gourmand
called for “steak, lobster, sauteed onions, baked sweet potatoes, and
one cold light beer.” Who needs Le Cirque?
By any and all criteria, the event was a huge success. The Wheatley
School Alumni Association (WWW.WHEATLEYALUMNI.ORG;
formed in its wake. Thought is already being given to whether the next
such event should be held in 2016 or 2031.
Report prepared by The Wheatley School Alumni Association (Art
Engoron, 1967, Director).
Report approved by The Wheatley School (Rick Simon, Principal).