Arranged in the same approximate locations as in their 1953 class picture are (front row) Ron Kingsbury, Ron Schillinger, Ann Foster. Back row: Kathy (Gray) Anderson, Charl Blackwood, Bob Whitman and Gerry Plummer. Photo, courtesy Ron Schillinger

Has a first-grade class ever had a class reunion?

“Only in Vaughn, Washington!” said Ron Schillinger.

Classmates discussed having big celebrations or gatherings besides regular reunions, but there was never time to do it.

Members of the 1953 first grade class of of Vaughn Elementary decided it was time to have a special celebration.

Schillinger, Ron Kingsbury and Bob Whitman organized the event that brought together six people from that class as well as their teacher, Charl Mansen, now Blackwood, of Gig Harbor, along with spouses and other schoolmates from Vaughn.

It was held at the Key Peninsula Civic Center, in their former classroom, now the VFW Room.

Other first-grade classmates in attendance were Kathy Gray Anderson, Gerry Plummer and Ann Foster. Five other “original” classmates they contacted were unable to attend.

Whitman, of Minter, lives closest, and Schillinger, from Montesano, traveled the farthest.

Charl Mansen was counselor and PE teacher at Peninsula when this class attended, then she returned to Washington State University for her Masters degree

“Ron Kingsbury, Ann Foster and I went through first grade, to Peninsula graduation together, then off to WSU together as well,” said Schillinger. “Pretty unusual don’t you think? And Mrs. Mansen joined us as well.”

“I was so blessed,” said Charl Blackwood, who soon turns 92. “Such a pleasant surprise when I got the letter. The people out there (on the Key Peninsula) have always been special to me,” she added.

Carla Kingsbury, wife of Ron, said, “I went through school in Spanaway in the Bethel District. I’ve been to and heard of high school reunions. I have never heard of a first-grade reunion. It only happens in Vaughn.”

Schillinger and wife, Janet Botnen, help organize regular hikes.

“Ron, Bob and I have hiked probably about 100 miles/year for the last 10 years together,” said Schillinger. Their next hike is seven miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass.

“We expect six of our Peninsula High Class of ‘65 will be along, so it classifies as a class event,” he said.

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