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HHS Alumni Association board members work to keep group going, attract more people

When Hastings resident and active Hastings High School Alumni Association member Bob Dodge was very sick, he told his daughters Denise Atkinson and Val Youngren not to let the alumni association he cared so much about disband.

Dodge died several years ago, but that message stayed with his daughters. Atkinson is now the president and Youngren a board member of the organization, which is planning its annual banquet for Sept. 29 at the Hastings Country Club.

"What is important to me is this concept that our school, the high school, is the center of culture for the community," said Atkinson. "It can't be swept away - this concept of tradition we have with this group. This is most important to me."

Youngren laughed about how her father would ask his daughters to help with the banquet.

"We would come to the banquet, pour the punch and leave," she said.

But that changed. They started coming to the annual banquet. For years it was held at the former Hastings Middle School on Vermillion Street, then several years at Hastings High School. Last year it was held at The Point.

Jim Mayer is probably the alumnus who has the record for attending the banquet for the most number of years - more than 40. And, yes, his friend Bob Dodge went with him.

"To me, going to the banquet is where you might see someone you haven't seen in years," he said. "That is so precious to make that connection again."

Shirley Munger, too, is also a faithful attendee.

"It is so important," she said. "We don't want it to fold."

But as the board members grow older and as several leave the board, there is that concern. Fewer and fewer alumni (anyone who is a graduate of Hastings High School is a member) attend the annual banquet.

Part of that may be the larger number of graduates and the larger Hastings community itself, said board member Rita Bremer.

"When we graduated, our classes were smaller and you knew everyone in the class," she said. "Now, the classes are larger -- so is Hastings -- and there isn't that connection."

For years, the alumni association has presented a scholarship to a graduating Hastings High School senior. The major requirement is that the graduate has a parent or grandparent who is also graduate of Hastings High School. Members do not want this tradition to end either.

This year's banquet will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Hastings Country Club.

This year's banquet begins at 5 p.m. with the social hour (cash bar) at 5:30 p.m. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. A brief meeting and social time will follow dinner. Letters have been sent to the anniversary classes, which include the years of 2007, 2002, 1997, 1992, 1982, 1977, 1972, 1967, 1962, 1957, 1952, 1947, 1942 and 1937. Hastings High School graduates are encouraged to let their classmates know about the annual banquet.

Tickets to the annual banquet are $20. For reservations or more information, contact Bremer at 651-437-3241; Halberg at 651-437-7878 or at; or Elaine Zuzek at 651-437-5384 or at