By Midge Pierce
The year-long Franklin High School Centennial ends this month with an alumni weekend that starts with the planting of a Centennial Rose during a school open house on Friday, June 13 and ends with a Saturday night banquet at Jantzen Beach Red Lion Hotel. Alumni are celebrating the school’s founding as well as a planned modernization they hope will preserve the past as it moves into to a bright future.
“Franklin is Portland’s best kept secret,” says Joyce Gago, class of ‘54 who, after 60 years, is still at school, working in the main office. “I’ve retired several times but come back as a substitute. I love it so much I can’t leave.”
At least 200 alumni are expected, several from the East Coast, as well as South Dakota, Missouri and California according to Vi Watt, chief banquet organizer. The oldest alumni expected to attend graduated in 194l.
“Franklin has always meant a lot to me,” says Watt. While Watt’s alma matter is Lincoln High, she is married to Franklin Alumni Board member Mal Watt, class of 1950. “I attended many dances at Franklin. It will always have a soft spot in my heart.”
Watt added the school tour to the agenda so that alumni have one more chance to see the school before the renovation starts in 2015. The building’s conversion will include a new performing arts center, science and technology building, new gym, state of the art library and media center. Rotating the football field to run north/south will free up enough land to accommodate the new buildings.
“A lot of thought went into the renovation and I think the property is being put to excellent use,” says Lucille Davis who is tracking down memorabilia to showcase during the celebration.
She traces the school’s history back to 1910 with the founding of the Creston Grade School. The current building plans were drawn in 1914 though the school did not actually open until 1917.
“Franklin High is like a village. You have a nice community with supporting groups all around it. It’s the perfect neighborhood to support a thriving school.”
Since its inception in 2005, the Alumni Association has raised more than $50,000 for student needs that include a new dance floor, sports equipment and new choir robes. The Alumni Board meets the second Saturday of each month at 10 am in Franklin High room 101.
To learn more about the alumni association celebration email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www. franklinhighalumni.org.