SALINEVILLE - Southern Local School District, like many rural school districts, has humble beginnings.
Originally, the district was a collection of smaller buildings spread out from Summitville to Highlandtown. Completed in 2004, the current, centralized K-12 campus is a relatively new concept for the district.
In the many years before the current campus was built, thousands of students graduated from what has become referred to as the "old" and "original" Salineville High School. The Salineville Southern Alumni Association hopes to bring all those graduates together again to celebrate what has become the oldest consecutive alumni association meeting in the United States.
The Salineville Southern Local Alumni Association will hold its 121st annual Alumni Banquet on May 25 in the high school gymnasium at Southern Local High School. Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6. An organizational meeting of the Alumni Association will take place after the dinner, as well as after-dinner entertainment featuring Matt Clark. Pictures of previous classes and old school buildings will be on display.
Cost of admission for the banquet is $10. Attendees must be graduates of Southern school district. Attendees may bring a guest, however, the alumni association requests guests be at least age 18. Southern Local's High School seniors are invited as special guests of honor. The alumni association will be handing out 11 scholarships to graduating seniors with GPAs of 3.3 or better. Seniors must pay admission, but will have their admission refunded if they attend.
"We want our seniors (students) to realize that knowing people who graduated years before them can really help them out starting out in life - it opens doors," said Alumni association member Merna Pastore.
Southern Local teachers also are invited to attend. As per tradition, the Alumni Association plans to recognize the oldest male and female attendee and the graduate who travels the farthest to attend the banquet with a special gift. Alumni association member Marlene Corbisello recalls a past banquet when a couple came from Haiti.
Indeed the Southern school district has produced a great many successful graduates who have gone on to do great things in many different careers.
"We've had judges, lawyers, nurses doctors attend the banquet - you name it we've had them from this school," said Alumni Association member Marlene Corbisello
A tradition of the Alumni Association is to honor the classes celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries. This year's banquet will pay special tribute to the class of 1963 celebrating their 50th anniversary, but also recognizing them as the last class to graduate from the old Salineville High School. The class of 1988 will also celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The old Salineville High School was once located where the former IGA building stands today on Main Street in Salineville. Built in 1937, as part of FDR's Works program, it was torn down in the mid 1990s, but still holds a special place in the hearts of the many students who passed through its doors. Many alumni fondly remember the old Salineville High School as a vibrant and bustling part of the community.
"All kinds of things would go on there. They would have minstrels, school plays. A lot of the entertainers from the Wheeling radio station would stop out," said Pastore. "The whole town would show up because it was a community center and a lot of activities went on there."
Today those kind of open door policies in schools are long gone but the Southern Local Alumni Association hopes to keep the spirit of those simpler times alive with the yearly alumni banquet.