Killian High Class of ’68 plans 45-year reunion, Oct. 18-19

Killian Senior High School’s “first class” has planned a mid-October gettogether, five years before the school’s official 50th reunion year rolls around.

“That’s partly because it gets harder each year to locate classmates,” explained West Kendall’s Martha Backer, one of 10 Killian Cougars who decided 2013 was the time to make special note of the first class to be enrolled at the Kendall high school. The 2013 party is off to a good start, she added, with more than 100 of the original 357 classmates indicating they will attend.

“We had a very small class when the Killian opened in 1966,” Backer said. “We were given a choice to go to the new school, then ‘way out west’ or stay at Miami Senior, Southwest or Palmetto High.

“It was an important time due to the start of integration. Killian, originally planned as a junior and senior high, with the elimination of Mays High in Goulds, opened as a senior high with Mays high school students entering with us, along with others from Perrine, Richmond Heights and Cutler Ridge.

Headllined “1968: the year we changed the world,” Killian 1968 classmates are getting a green-and-gold flyer reproducing an LP-album cover of Aretha Franklin side-byside with a tawny yellow cougar sitting atop the hood of a bright red Mercury Cougar and the cover of an Archie comic book.

“Miami was far different in 1968,” Backer said. “Almost everyone was bused to the school at that time because so few people lived that far west. It was triple sessions at Miami Palmetto, so I was happy to go to a big air-conditioned school.

“We got to choose the Cougar as our mascot and name the newspaper, the Cougar’s Roar, and the yearbook as The Catamount. Sheila Zaretzky, the last teacher who taught the Class of ’68, retired in 2012, Backer also recalled.

“Motown music flavored our parties, the band moved like the FAMU Rattlers and Drum Major Crispin Fife, strutted his stuff; he passed away far too young.”

Classmate Claudia Rawlinson, a committee member planning an Oct. 18-19 Homecoming celebration, recalls that the graduating Class of 1968 numbered 357 or about half the enrollment of 580 students in 1966-67, as confirmed by current activities director Patricio Suarez. Listed enrollment today is 2,473.

“Ground-breaking for the school was actually in 1963,” Suarez noted. “The completed school open its doors for the first time three years later. The Class of 1968 spent two years here, entering as juniors in 1966-67 and as the first class in 1967-68.”

The schedule for the 45th reunion will include a tour of the school campus (enlarged twice since it opened) with greetings from Suarez and principal Thomas P. Ennis, followed by a social at Sports Grill Kendall, 9700 SW 97 Ave.

On Saturday, the class will honor those who served in the military with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen planning to present a flag to the mother of Michael Heath, a classmate who was killed in Vietnam.

While current students will be off to cheer Killian’s Cougars against Palmetto on the football field Oct. 19, the Class of ’68 will celebrate at the Elks Club from 3:30 to 9 p.m. with a buffet dinner and a program arranged by the committee.

Kennard Rawlinson heads the planning team along with Ms. Rawlinson, Backer, Dennis Hitchins, Terri Reddington- Hollada, Col. Phil Zedonek, Paul Benners, Cathy Kunce Hilton, Jacquie Arbogast Flint, Col. Phil Hamilton and Don Brown.

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