Grads will descend on alma mater

September 23, 2003 12:00 am

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

Thousands of phone calls and letters have crossed the country, tracking down Sonora High School graduates to invite them to their alma mater's 100th birthday party.

This weekend, those alumni will descend on Sonora and take part in reunions, football games, a barbecue, displays and christenings in honor of the downtown school's longevity.

A century ago, Tuolumne County High School held classes in the cramped courthouse before moving to its current location in 1906. Construction costs for the new school totaled $37,763.

In 1916, the school was given its current name, Sonora Union High School.

In honor of Sonora High's rich and varied past — which includes academic, music and dramatic accomplishments as well as "clique fights" between punks and rednecks — a large committee of alumni, students, parents and administrators are throwing the school a huge party.

"I really think Sonora High School has a singular role because it is the center of community activities for young people," said Dwain McDonald, long-time educator and co-leader of the Centennial Committee.

The celebration begins Friday night with a football game against Galt High School. The school's Golden Regiment band will play during and after the varsity game, legislative representatives will speak at halftime and green-and-yellow centennial shirts and hats will be on sale.

Numerous reunion parties will be held over the weekend, starting after Friday night's games.

Although more than 1,000 tickets have already been sold, more are still available for Saturday's barbecue, at which graduates can stroll the campus and reminisce near their old lockers or their favorite hangouts. They can also peek into the classrooms where they studied math, English and chemistry or first laid eyes on their high school sweethearts.

If memories require a little jogging, nostalgic displays will dot the campus, listing all the school's principals, military personnel and stories about the school's early years.

Some people might not recognize their own alma mater after all the building, planting and growing in recent years.