The Van-Far R-I gymnasium was filled with several alumni representing a wide range of past graduating classes during the annual Van-Far Alumni All School Reunion held on Sunday, September 27.
This year’s dinner event featured guest speaker Jerry Gibson, who graduated from Van-Far in 1970.
During his speech, he talked about his own family’s close ties to education as many members have been teachers.
Gibson talked about his journey through the local school district from Kindergarten up through his senior year. He named several of his former teachers and shared several memories and past experiences while attending school in the district.
His fellow classmate Gary Fowler, Class of 1970, introduced him.
Gibson went on to talk about his successful career in the grain industry. He made a presentation showing how the number of U.S. bushels per acre of grain, as well as for other products like soybeans, has about doubled in bushels per acre since his senior year.
Gibson noted the growing population size from four billion in the ‘70s to currently seven billion to a projected nine billion in the future.
“Again, we’re getting better at what we do, better genetics, better fertilizer, better farming practices, all of these things contribute to this world grain supply,” Gibson said in his speech.
He is currently Vice-President of Operations for EGT, LLC a joint venture of Bunge North America and ITOCHU International located on the Columbia River in Longview, Washington.
Jerry is the son of Natalie Gibson, of rural Vandalia, and the late Duane Gibson. Jerry’s youngest brothers, Donnie and David, and their families also live and farm in the Vandalia area.
Jerry is married to the former Patti Howell, daughter of Helen Howell and the late Dr. William L. Howell. Jerry and Patti have three grown children: Jon, Jeremy, and Alicia.
This year’s program began with a welcome from Van-Far Alumni and Friends Association President Muriel Beshears, Class of 1961.
Van-Far senior Micaella Love sang the National Anthem before Spencer Creek Baptist Pastor Bob Hoehn delivered the invocation.
Beshears introduced a large number of special guests.
Board member Jim Deppe, Class of 1977, read off a list of scholarship winners.
• $500 – Spencer Trower and Tabetha Hopke, Class of 2011; Sarah Sutton, Brian Kurz, and Kristin Beatty (Class of 2013); Brooke Johnson, Class of 2014
• $1,000 Renewable Scholarships for four years – Brooke James (Class of 2015); Samantha Davis (Class of 2014); Ashley Rentfro (Class of 2013); and Kasey Gatson (Class of 2012)
• $5,000 Renewable Scholarships – Bryan Mink
• $500 Scholarships given in memory of Shirley Forgy – Abilene Gatson and Sarah Motley
Breshears also talked on behalf of the Alumni and Friends.
Van-Far Principal Cindy Pirch and her husband Garry were each recognized for their years of service to the district. Principal Pirch recently announced her plans to retire at the end of the school year.
Entertainment was provided by Van-Far Teachers and Friends Denise Allen, Ruth Calcaterra, Brian Hummel, Brenda Owens, Joel Montgomery, and Deanna Divins.
Tours of the school were also provided before the main program began.