The Van-Far Alumni and Friends Association gathered alumni and friends from decades past at the association’s annual All-School Reunion.
Held Saturday, September 22 in the high school gym, the reunion offered building tours, a social hour, and a pork lion dinner from Heritage Café among other activities throughout the evening. The event recognized the 50, 55, and 60 year class reunions and the 2012 scholarship winners.
After a formal welcome by Alumni President Muriel Beshears, the Class of 1957 kicked of the celebration by leading attendees through the pledge of allegiance.
Fifth and sixth grade students then took the stage and sung a variety of patriotic songs, before Adam Gatson, Class of 1982, gave the invocation.
After dinner, the class of 1982’s Dr. Joel Hassien took the podium as special speaker for the evening.
“This man knows me inside and out,” said Michael Griffith, a retired Van-Far teacher, referring to time spent with Hassien in both the class room and patient room, as he announced Hassien.
Hassien graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1990 and now works as a diagnostic radiologist with NE Missouri Imaging Associates at Hannibal.
As the evening speaker, Hassien discussed Van-Far’s Life Foundation.
Hassien discussed values as the first part of the foundation. He noted that one has to give one’s all to get where they want to be in life and the role this value serves students at Van-Far.
Hassien then moved on to community and what the lasting connections he has made have meant to him in his life and career.
“After having been gone for more than 10 years from the community, there has been an out pouring of support in the form of cards, calls and visits. That support meant so much during those times,” Hassien said.
He said a discussion about local community wouldn’t be complete without mentioning those who were instrumental to him.
“Those would be EMT instructors and fellow EMTs at the Van-Far Ambulance District,” he said, noting the importance of others he had not mentioned.
“The third component of our life foundation is opportunity. Many opportunities existed and still exist at Van-Far,” Hassien said.
He said opportunities include developing leadership skills in student council, which serve as a skill set for future leadership positions.
Hassien recalled an opportunity he had to travel to Washington D.C. and learn about United States government.
“One day during that week-long program, a few of us were sitting in the Senate reception room and a man walks in and goes over to some young kids at the other side of the room. He started taking pictures with them,” he said. “We didn’t recognize him when he walked in but were curious when everyone stood up when he entered the room. Not realizing what the big deal was we just sat there. A few minutes later, we recognized that gentleman as the Vice President of the United States (George H. W. Bush), at which point we immediately shot up out of our seats.”
He said the fourth part of Van-Far’s Life Foundation is education.
“Van-Far has been a part of all our lives for quite a long time. Think about it,” he said. “Most of us have attended Van-Far schools for 13 years of our lives.”
He said during this time students are immersed in reading, writing, arithmetic, the arts, and physical education.
“This is the cement that binds our entire knowledge base into one immovable foundation. More importantly, Van-Far also equipped us with the ability to continue learning.”
In closing, Hassien gave a special thanks to Griffith for the friendship and influence Griffith has given Hassien in his life and career.
Winners of the Van-Far and Alumni and Friends scholarships were recent Van-Far graduates Kasey Gatson, who received the first four-year, renewable $1,000 scholarship; Jinnifer Harrower, who received $500; and Jessie Fowler, who received $500.
Sally Brookshier and Summer Lamberson, who both received $500, were also rewarded with scholarships.
The evening came to a close with songs performed by Brenda Baker Owens (Class of 1980); Ruth Calcaterra, retired Van-Far teacher; Brain Hummel, current Van-Far teacher (Class of 2001); Denise Allen, current Van-Far teacher; and Deanna Breneman Divens (Class of 1978).