MIDWEST CITY — In the fall of 1963, the Beach Boys recorded “Be True to Your School,” which would go on to become one of their biggest hits, and the song’s meaning is something the Midwest City class of 1964 is taking to heart.
That class — which was made up of 499 graduates — will mark its 50th anniversary with a three-day celebration beginning Friday. The reunion is a chance to catch up, but the class also is hoping to give something back to the school that was the scene of class members’ adolescent years.
“We started out with two concepts, one was the Beach Boys song, which we defined as reconnecting with the school in a meaningful way during our 50th anniversary year and combine that with a project that would benefit the school,” reunion committee member Barbara Sessions said.
That project is a reconceptualization of the current Midwest City High School museum located on the high school campus. That museum opened in 2001 but is in need of a makeover.
“Right now, the museum has a lot of items in it, like yearbooks that are falling apart,” committee member Chaniece Harkey said. “Our hope is to restore those and digitize them so they can be preserved forever.”
Several items already have been replaced, including some shelving. But there is much more work to be done.
Two members of the class of 1964 have assisted in the design of a revamped museum. Tony Callaway has made a living as an architect. He helped design the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which chronicles the John F. Kennedy assassination. He has lent his expertise to a complete redesign of the Midwest City museum.
Marty Thompson served as a librarian at the OU Health and Sciences Center in Oklahoma City and already has helped preserve some of the items in the museum.
“It’s serendipity that we have two members of our class who have skills that so directly apply to this project,” Sessions said.
About 160 people are expected for the reunion. Sessions said money left over from the reunion fund would be donated to the museum renovation. The group also is hoping other classes will step forward and lend a hand.
“When the museum was opened, it was really the result of people from the classes in the 1940s and 1950s who stepped in and put that together,” she said. “Now we see this as our time to make a contribution to that and to get classes from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s involved as well. We intend to keep meeting to work on this for years to come.”
A wreath-laying ceremony also will be part of the reunion. There were 21 Midwest City High School students killed in Vietnam, including five from the class of 1964. Sessions finds herself thinking of those who died more often as the reunion gets closer.
‘America’s model city’
The wreath-laying ceremony will be at 11 a.m. Saturday on the Midwest City High School campus.
“We graduated together and before they had reached the age of 22, they had lost their lives,” Sessions said. “That’s what we think about most of all 50 years later, all of the life they did not get to experience.”
Harkey said the losses had an impact on the class in later years.
“I knew two of them very well,” she said. “Midwest City was a small town back then. It was America’s model city.
“We went out of town every now and then, but we mainly stayed in our area. I’ve known some of those people in our class since grade school, and when you lose someone that young to war it has an impact that is lasting.”
For more information on the Midwest City Class of 1964 reunion and how to participate if you are a member of that class, call Alexandria Rose Miller at (918) 231-9132.