Larkin High School in Elgin hosted an open house on Saturday to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and it was the proverbial trip down memory lane for alumni who visited their old school.
While perusing a table of memorabilia from the 1980s, Priti Amin of Aurora leafed through a Loyal Royal school newspaper from 1986, the year she graduated. "There I am!" she exclaimed when she found her name listed among that year's Illinois State Scholars.
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Amin and friends Cindy Mogler Myroth of Roscoe, Ill., and Brian Lawrence, now an Elgin police detective, said they enjoyed running into old classmates and reminiscing about how different things used to be.
"Whenever you went to the teacher's lounge, a cloud of smoke would come out," Amin said.
The open house was a great success, said Larkin counselor Julie Lawson Ball, a 1974 graduate who spearheaded the initiative. Staff even started worrying halfway through the event that the 1,000 name tags they were giving out wouldn't be enough, she said. The open house included building tours and kicked off the school's homecoming week.
Several Larkin students volunteered at the event, including sisters Alyssa and Alex Hardman.
Alyssa Hardman, a senior, donned a 1960s-inspired dress and go-go boots. Alex Hardman, a junior, who wore a 1950s poodle skirt and her mother's Keds.
Their friend, senior Mary Jozefowicz, wore a 1960s flight attendant outfit.
"We are supposed to bring people back to their time period, bring memories of how it was," Alyssa said.
Among those who remembers Larkin's early days is former Latin teacher John Duffy of Elgin, who now serves on the board of Elgin Community College. His name is among those listed on Larkin's dedication program from Sept. 23, 1962.
"I have been running into all kinds of people, even a former student from Seattle," said Duffy, who taught at the school for 34 years until he retired in 1996. "I'm glad I'm here. It's just kind of neat to be back."
Jennifer Dyer of Elgin, a 1996 graduate, took her daughters Hannah, 5, and Lucy, 3, along for the visit. Dyer said she took a lot of arts and music classes in high school, and wished she could have enjoyed the fine arts wing, which was built the year after she graduated.
"It just killed me," she said. "That would have been fantastic."
Attending Larkin is a sort of family tradition for Jami Jacobson Sund, a 1972 graduate who still lives nearby in Elgin. Jacobson Sund said her three siblings graduated from the high school in the 1970s, and her two children graduated in 2005 and 2009.
"I think this is really fabulous," she said. "We celebrated our 40th (reunion) this summer, but it's really fun to see other classes, too."
Brittany Pitt of Elgin, a 2004 graduate, was among many who signed their names on the alumni autograph banner. "It really looks good, but it is a lot different," she said. "It seems smaller now."