by Roger Majak
MUNSTER, Ind. (June 22, 2022) – A lively crowd of 260 Thornton Fractional North and South graduates who received their diplomas 50 or more years ago gathered on June 16 for a reunion banquet at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster.
More than fifty years after graduation, the ranks of individual graduating classes have often thinned to the point that reunions can turn out to be small, somber events. Joseph Borowski (TF class of 1946), didn’t want 50th reunions to be the last. In 1999 he formed the Thornton Fractional Golden Alumni Association (TFGAA), which has sponsored an after-50th reunion every year for graduates from both TF North and TF South while also raising funds for college scholarships for worthy students from both schools. Attendance at this year’s reunion — the first since COVID — proved “the more the merrier.”
The loudest applause of the evening erupted for 99-year-old Dorothy Polus Litzan, who graduated in 1941. Robert Schultz and Alice (Jastrab) Urbanski also traced their graduations back to the 1940s. Most of the crowd, however, graduated in the 50s or 60s.
Membership Secretary Sandy (Muta) Lewis (TFN ‘65) announced the names of eight students being awarded scholarships this year. TF North scholarship winners are Mia Diaz (to study art education), Joshua Aguirre (to study nursing at Loyola University), Adam Gardner (for computer science at Southern Illinois University), and Debron Henderson (for veterinary medicine at Purdue). Winners at TF South are Kaylin Clay (for pre–medicine at Spelman College), Javier Alcantar (for chemical engineering at Yale), Kaiya Edwards (for psychology at Clark Atlanta University), and Madeline Gann (for civil engineering at Valparaiso University).
John Davis (TFS, 1962), a resident of Casa Grande, AZ, and Gurney, IL, and an active cyclist, planned to bicycle the last few miles to Munster, but was deterred by the 100-plus heat index the day of the reunion. He was surprised to learn that a commuter train station is planned using the former Monon Railroad right-of-way and current bicycle path just steps from his boyhood home near Ridge Road and Hohman Avenue.
Jerry Wojten (TFN, 1959) was seen doing push-ups to demonstrate his good physical condition. “Jerry has a long reputation for getting any party loosened up,” classmate Richard Christian commented. Christian and his wife Bonnie (Bowie), both 1959 graduates of TF South, rediscovered each other and married after the 40th reunion of their class. At the urging of classmates, they drove up from Indianapolis to attend. Rich’s father, Harold Christian, was band director at TF North and South from the 1950s until 1964.
“Calumet City and Lansing were great cities to grow up in,” Sandy Lewis said, summing up the event. “The best thing about reunions,” she added, “is the joy we feel reliving a glorious, carefree time in our lives, sharing stories about teachers, dances, and football games, and singing our school songs.”