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 gatherings.
Saturday - 10/21/06
||Home athletic events.
||School-Within-A-School reception; alumni art show; alumni athletes event.
||Formal ceremony in the gymnasium.
||Meet-and-Greet for each class, in individual classrooms.
||Buffet dinner in and around the cafeteria.
||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, WWW.EWSDONLINE.ORG, which included a downloadable registration form. On-line registration was deemed technically unfeasible, but should be considered for future events.
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)
and 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
for 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, Belgium, Spain, and Italy.
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
Sherwood 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 alumni-siblings:
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; WHEATLEYALUMNI@AOL.COM) was 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).