'Gathering' Draws Rostraver Classmates Together
Paglia, Ron, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
It was, as reunions go, an informal exercise -- a relaxing and poignant afternoon of sharing memories for Rostraver classmates.
"This is great, so many wonderful people and a lot of good memories," said John Dolfi, a 1954 graduate of Rostraver High School and chairman of the + as he waved his hand in the direction of the nearly 400 people gathered at Cedar Creek County Park. "(Attendance) seems to grow each year, and the enthusiasm grows with it."
Dolfi, an energetic and outgoing individual, said the Gathering is open to all persons who attended or taught at the former schools in Rostraver from 1936 through 1968. Although Rostraver High ceased to exist as the result of a merger with Bellmar to form Belle Vernon Area School district in 1964, the extension to 1968 is because those who graduated in 1968 were freshman at Rostraver in 1964.
"We don't want to leave anyone out," Dolfi said. "The basic idea is to bring anyone and everyone who attended (Rostraver schools)."
Dolfi also emphasized that the Gathering concept is systematic of the times. "More and more classes, especially the older ones, are having difficulties in getting good attendance," he said. "Social organizations like the Elks, Moose, etc. also are experiencing declines in memberships. There are fewer and fewer people -- because of deaths, health, age or where they live -- each year to attend these events. We felt this idea would be a good way to provide an opportunity for everyone to fraternize at the same time."
Joyce Sampey Cline, Class of 1959, agreed and credited Dolfi with coming up with the idea of a combined gathering of all Rostraver students.
"John helps organize the Webster reunion each year, and it's a very enjoyable and successful event," Cline said. "About 10 years ago, John suggested that it would be nice to bring Rostraver graduates and all former students together this way. During our school years our friends were a big part of our lives. When we school we left many friends behind. This is a chance for us to see them again and catch up each other's lives."
The initial Rostraver Gathering in 2002 drew about 200 people. Since then, it has averaged between 300 and 400 each year.
"We mail out about 1,200 invitations each year," Sampey said. "We also have a network of sorts via email contacts and, of course, there's the word of mouth process - people who attend tell their friends about it, and that creates more interest."
Dolfi said there's "a good mix" of attendees. "About 90 percent are repeats -- that is, they come back each year -- while 10 percent are newcomers who are here for the first time," he said.
Among those in the latter category at this year's event were Bill and Linda Hommey Blick of Irwin, both 1964 Rostraver High graduates.
"This is a super idea," Blick said as he and his wife talked with longtime friend Tom Buchanan, Class of 1965. …