The Winchester Alumni Association returned to the commons at Winchester Community High School on Saturday to hold its annual alumni banquet. Former students gathered before the program as they reminisced about their school days.
The banquet took place in the commons at the high school with a social hour beforehand. Copies of “The Golden Graduates of Winchester High School, A Small Indiana Town’s Remarkable Achievement” were on sale with proceeds going to the Winchester Alumni Association.
Vice president of the Winchester Alumni Association, Robert “Zeke” Horner of the class of 1968, led the program for the evening welcoming those in attendance. He gave a special recognition to the oldest graduate attending, Jolene Coddington Green of the Class of 1946. Joyce Huffer Phipps of the Class of 1964 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Randolph Central School Corporation superintendent Rolland Abraham spoke of recent activities at the school.
Abraham informed those in attendance that the school is now an Indiana Endowment Early College High School with 41 courses being offered for dual credit. He also spoke of the P-Tech program which will begin next year where the school will partner with 40 industry partners to help students learn problem solving skills related to various jobs and careers. He said hopefully by this time next year there will be a newly constructed space for the program. He also spoke about Deerfield Elementary School, which was the top performing school academically in Randolph County, and the high school’s now fully operational greenhouse.
Abraham then turned to the recent acquisition of property. The school had considered using the former Time-Out Snack Shop, but the engineering report was not good so it had to be torn down. This gives the school several options as it considers the issues with the fieldhouse.
“Another issue we will have to address within the next five years is our aging fieldhouse. We are often passed over as a site for hosting regional and sectional games due to the lack of parking and other issues with the facility. The newly acquired properties will give us some other options as we prepare to address this issue.
“The fieldhouse that was built in the 1950s has tremendous historical value. Although, from what I am told it might cost more to renovate it than it would to construct a new facility here at the school.”
The current gymnasium at the high school could be expanded, or a new structure could be built on the recently acquired property.
“In the next few years we will have to make a decision on which direction we want to go. The soonest we could begin such a project would be 2027,” he said.
Paul Resler of the Class of 1961 then led those in attendance in the singing of the school fight songs for the original Winchester High School, Driver High School and the current Winchester Community High School. This was followed by an invocation by Gary Taylor.
Alumni board treasurer Mary Jane Engle of the Class of 1962 then read a financial report of the previous year’s activities. The Class of 1973 was honored on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its graduation. Cheryl Gard Study of the class read memories of her classmates reflecting on their times at the six elementary schools that were in the school corporation at the time. Ric Study then led a special recognition for veterans in attendance.
Abraham then presented the $1,000 Alumni Scholarships to 11 WCHS graduating seniors. Alexis Roth received the Dr. Michelle Wysong Migliore Scholarship; Andrew Todd Lloyd and Reece Michael received the Douglas A.Davis Scholarship; and Amelia Donnely received the David B. Kelley Scholarship. Taylor Campbell, Avery Clevenger, Braelyn Gastineau, Tara Norman, Tia-Ann Retz, Jacelyn Wolf and Alliyah Trausch also received scholarships.
Pat Knasinski took the stage to announce the recipient of the second Anne Moorman Riddle Distinguished Service Award. This award was initiated in 2022, through the efforts of Class of 1958 graduate Jane Marie Lind in conjunction with the alumni association. Its purpose is to recognize, honor and show appreciation for individuals who have contributed in an outstanding way to the alumni association and its purposes. Recipients will have shown extraordinary ingenuity, resourcefulness and support in improving outreach, fundraising and/or technological operations by working far beyond average volunteerism efforts. Riddle was the first recipient of the award last year. This year’s recipient was Dr. Garl Daly Walker of the Class of 1958.
Dr. Walker grew up in Winchester, the son of Garl and Betty Walker of Walker Funeral Home. As a young doctor, he was drafted into service in Vietnam, where he served in the Mekong Delta and earned a Bronze Star. His experiences in that conflict served to make him a pacifist. When he returned he opened a surgical practice in Columbus. Inspired by his English teacher, Joe Casey, he decided to become an author. He wrote several fictional stories that often took a medical theme and took place in small midwestern towns.
In 2016, when he learned of the Golden Graduate Project and publication of these stories in the News-Gazette, he volunteered to come on board in support of the project. He proposed that these stories be turned into a high-quality hardback book would be published and made available for sale. He offered to research and write additional stories and to edit the entire publication, as well as to fund the publication expenses, along with his sister Sandra Walker Kelly, through a grant established at The Community Foundation of Randolph County by their parents. Walker served on the board of directors for the alumni association and helped see the book through its publication. He also proposed that the association set up a scholarship endowment fund using the proceeds from the book. That fund has now exceeded $130,000. Knasinski presented Walker with the award.
Horner then thanked everyone for attending. He also thanked the Boy Scouts and the WCHS Chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America for assisting with serving the meal. He wished everyone a safe trip home before the closing benediction by Gary Taylor.