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Honors will be remembered often this weekend.
Honored classes, like the Class of 1966 and 1991.
Honored heroes, like Lee Napier, a 1966 graduate who was killed in service and will be remembered by his classmates.
Honored state teams of years gone by.
Thee Orchard Alumni banquet is one of the largest in Antelope County, expecting over 200 alumni to return for the festivities.
The class with the most returning alumni? Class of 1966, one of the honored classes this year. This is is in no small part due to the hard work Dale Strope put into it.
Strope, a 1966 Orchard High School graduate, said that years ago he returned for alumni weekend, only to find he was the only one from his class who had made it back.
“I went back one year and I went back for a reunion. There was nobody from my class there. I was disappointed but not really surprised.”
But this year, as his class is being honored for their 50 year anniversary, he figured it was time for a reunion.
“I kinda decided that 50 years was the definitely the time [for a reunion], and why would I go back if my classmates weren’t going to be there. I sent letters out and I didn’t hear nothing but from a couple, so it’s been a long drawn out process.”
Strope didn’t have all his classmates’ numbers, either, which made the process even longer. “I started making phone calls because I didn’t have their phone numbers or anything. Finally I got numbers and I started calling everybody. When we talked everybody said, ‘Yeah, I think that’s a great idea!’”
Dale Strope also lead out the memorial bench project in honor of Lee Napier. “He was like my best friend in high school,” Strope said. “During the war, I was on an SSPN, which are really big submarines that carry missiles. We were on three months patrol, so I was gone three months and came home three months. [Lee] was killed while I was gone out to sea, so I didn’t know about it until way later. I never had closure on it which is kind of a hard thing for me, so I’m hoping this is kind of a way for me to get closure.”
Strope brought up the idea to his classmates one by one, as he called them to encourage them to come to alumni weekend. “I brought up the idea of doing a memorial day bench for Lee and everyone loved that idea,” Strope said.
“We’re pretty pumped,” said Strope regarding the weekend festivities. “We’re really excited and looking forward to a great weekend.”