While the majority of the class was still in familiar surroundings (like from right across the street), the rest from the various other schools such as Crary, Cooke and Newton found the opening of freshman year a period of re-adjustment and friend-making. But it didn't take long, for almost immediately the class of ‘73 pulled together to be the greatest spirited class in Benny's history.
Benedictine back in 1969 was run by Sister James Noreen and Mr. Edgar Bosley (he wasn't so bad, was he?). While some believed them to be strict, the freshman class, under the direction of President Dave Hamilton, led "the way to change" at meetings in Avon Park, and in the home of Frank Sobie. Soon, rules would give way, but not without a struggle from our class.
Freshman year brought about many challenging activities in which our class participated. Who could forget that first pep rally we sponsored with "Sunshine" Cindy Kopczynski and "Our Man" Tim Allen? In those days, pep rallies were looked forward to. Pancho Villa and his Jackals made sure of that. So did Benton Harbor and Bud Weiser!
All bugs in Homecoming "were ironed out" that year, thanks to the fine workmanship of our master-builders Greg Geisler, Larry Coccia, Norm Nelson, Louie Cocuzza, Gary Sheckell, Cheryl Knight and Jan Kruszewski. While we didn't win first prize that year, the experience gained proved fruitful the next three!
Drama played an important part in Benny's life back then, starting with "Genesis," which won the grand prize in the city-wide one-act play festival at Rosary High. The Christmas play, "A Christmas Triptych," was the first production to feature freshmen. We performed in either the choir (directed by Sr. Stephan Marie) or the verse choir. Student-directed one acts were next on the schedule, with such entries as "Good-bye to the Clown" by Dan Wall, "Shut and Bar the Door" by Bob Dooley, and the only play to feature a freshman, "A Night in the Country" by Pat Rahorn, which featured Mike Markham as Jackie. The play was a success. The Genisian Reading Festival had many of Benny's best, but it was a freshman, Michelle Zarza, who walked away with a gold medal in religious readings. "King and I" was the final production of the year, and probably the best. Directed by Sr. Therese Tighe, crowds packed the gym to see the four performances. Of the 12 lead roles, three were portrayed by freshmen. Mike Markham as Louis, Mike Moylan as the Interpreter, and Jeff Squires as the Crown Prince gave an impressive performance indeed.
Parties became "The Thing To Do", with a party for every occasion at the home of Carol Borsa. The pool games, the chocolate chip cookies, and Chinese fire-drills are things that won't be forgotten quickly.
Freshman year was the year for sports at Benedictine, with both the Varsity and Junior Varsity Football teams winning the number one spot in the league, as well as our hockey team, which clinched the State Champ Title for the second year in a row. There was something else to be proud of that year too, for freshman that is: Our own Jeff Anderson was the only freshman on the Varsity Basketball team. Within a short time, he'd rise up above them all in both basketball and in baseball.
That was only the beginning, and what a beginning it was. Nothing could top it, or so people thought. But we did, and in our sophomore year
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Sophomore year began as any other year, though with a new principal, Mr. Martin Keck. New changes in rules were put into effect almost immediately. Some say the changes came about too quickly, but the school was unified in those causes. And who lead them to unification? Why, the class of '73, of course!
Homecoming again was the first of many successes for our class, and that's no "Bull!" Our Rocky and Bullwinkle rose to the top that year, thanks to the great workmanship of Greg Geisler and Crew.
Ring Day, put on by our class, was one of the best ever. The cafeteria was miraculously transformed overnight to an old western saloon with some of the best dancing beauties around! And who could forget Peggy Kulling's paint jobs on the seats – of pants, that is!
We were number one in sports again that year, capturing the league title in football. The basketball teams also had their best year ever under Mr. Farrar and Mr. Kain. The hockey team repeated as league champs again, this time with sophomores Mike Williams, Bill Stusick, Bill Hourigan and Pete Vranesevich helping the team onto victory.
For the second year in a row, the class of '73 made big gains in drama. "Christmas Will Be Love," directed by Ms. Sylvia Swindlehurst, was a different type of Christmas program never before tried at Benny. But it was a success. The annual student-directed one acts followed, with "The Red Key" by Ken Pape and "Dope" by Jim Larosa. The other two plays featured sophomores in the predominate roles. The first was "Make Room For Rodney" starring (who else) Mike Markham, Gary Sheckell, Michele Zarza and Rosemary Bennett. The other play, "Nobody Sleeps," starred Liz Logue, Don Calamia, Cheryl Asher, Helen Lefevre and Cheryl Wizinsky. "Hair" was brought to our stage as a reader's theater production thanks to the Choric Drama Class. This was so successful, it was repeated again the next year.
Girls' sports became popular this year, with Kathy Dunn, Sue Dean, and Cheryl Wizinsky (mvp) heading the basketball team, and pitcher Maribeth Brogan leading the softball team to victory.
Carwashes, as hard work as they were, were fun and profitable to work on, as well as exciting. The profits from one certain carwash went "accidently" to pay some unexpected debts. Do you know why, Jim O'Connor?
The trek to Cedar Point was an interesting occurrence sophomore year, too. Tom Rugenski made a splash when he jumped off a ferry and was quickly escorted away by the local constable. Mickey Gilginas and Barb McEvoy (and also a few others) gave people quite a scare when they missed the bus to come home that night. (They were escorted by police to the busses that had been stopped on the freeway to wait for them.)
The parking lot was an important place for people of all grades, especially to us sophomores. This was a place to go and to talk, to make friends and to "boogie". People here seemed to get closer together and a special unification took place once again. .When that was" taken away from us, a gap was left in the lives of some, though only for a while. Junior year would take care of that.
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Junior year, the busiest of the high school years, promised to be just that – busy.
Pep rallies, after dying a slow death the year before, came into the spotlight once again, thanks to Sylvia Swindlehurst and her acting class. Before a football game against Bishop Foley, Benedictine hosted a funeral for the opposing team, led by our own "junior nuns and priests.” After the funeral procession to the football field, their team in effigy was given a nice, Christian burial. After he was hung on the flag pole.
Once again, the class of ‘73 took top honors on Homecoming for our float, constructed once again by our own experts. Two first prizes down, and only one more to go!
Teachers, of course, played an important role in our school life. Nobody could ever forget such notables from all three years such as Mr. Guerriero, Mr. Farrar, Ralph C. Fader, and Sister John Michael, but who could possibly ever forget the one and only Sister Barbara? You won't be able to, will you, Bob Kelley, or the wig she wore which you and Michele Roman "could've sworn was real!"
Simon, the black and white school mascot, appeared briefly on the scene to cheer (or bark) us all on. When he left, he was sorely missed by all.
Junior year was the year of innovations, naturally started by our class. he Pancake Breakfast brought many parishioners back for seconds and thirds, and showed them what kind of people we were: hard working yet cheerful. The Mother's Day Breakfast (with Moms free, natch) was one of our more popular creations, too.
Bill Ginn and Greg Bagnasco (otherwise known as BG § GC Productions) enlivened the gym basement again and again with the "Off the Street" coffee houses. Talents such as "Old Buck" and "Dave Cross" brought many people out of their homes to have a good time and to share a cup of java with old friends.
The Junior-Senior Banquet, sponsored traditionally by the junior class, was a success from the start. Held at the Roostertail Upper Deck, the evening drew nothing but praise from all who attended.
The class of '73 has always been noted as a class that was willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed. Each year, when Muscular Dystrophy rolled around, big hearts such as Kathy Garcia, Chris Pietryk, Ann Jacoboni, Jim Fitzpatrick, Liz Logue and many, many more gave their free time generously to collect from people for this great cause.
Most schools have trouble finding students to work on their many projects, but not ours. Ours even boasted an "Honorary Student," namely Stormin' Norm Hill, who could always be found in the halls, in Mr. G's room, or helping wherever he could. Redford High didn't know what it was missing!
Summer Hockey Leagues were filled with many of the all-stars from our own hockey team, especially at the league at the Fraser Rink. One team boasted such pros as Dan Gaule, Mark Eckler, and Larry Perkovich.
"The Wizard of Oz" was the children's theater production of the year, starring Michelle Zarza as Dorothy, Mike Moylan as the scarecrow, Cheryl Asher as the Wicked Witch, and Mike Markham as the Wizard (with the voice of Don Calamia.) The play was truly an experience when put on for kids from many different schools. Right Mike Moylan?
All was ready and waiting for senior year to roll around. Shortly, it did.
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After a long period of time, senior year rolled around for the class of 1973. Under the direction of our new principal Fr. Theo, we saw many things occur, some good and some bad.
The beginning of the year was a general apathy germ amongst all four classes and individual members. For a while, even the Class of '73 appeared dead. Homecoming changed all that!
Our class became the first class in Benny's history to win the Homecoming float contest three years in a row. Truly, our float was the best on the record.
Another first for our class was to have a woman president. Kathy Sheehan scored one for woman's lib and paved the way for other women presidents.
Seven of Benny's Beauties shared the spotlight on Homecoming, reigning as the Queen and her Court. Chris Glodowski, Kathy Sheehan, Deni Kociemba, Kathy Leto, Camille Vettraino and Peggy Kulling were the perfect court for Queen Jody Hrymak.
The spaghetti dinner was another senior success, thanks to our "Favorite Student and Chef" Mr. Borsa, and the King of the spaghetti-dishers, Fr. Theo. After sharing a meal with our own class, a rebirth in spirit was seen, something which shortly shot up to hit an all-time peak.
For the first time in many years, the Raven was brought back to full time status, with a school body who read it enthusiastically, submitted articles faithfully, and (naturally), had seniors in charge of it. Editor Don Calamia and Liz Evans found a successful format and kept reader interest alive and well.
The yearbook, however, saw a decline in interest. However, Veronica Barber put forth an over-abundance of time and work to make this one of the best ever.
Christmastime brought joy and good tidings to all at Benedictine, thanks to the visit by "Santa Claus" Stump and his elves Al Roehrig and Bob Wysocki, who distributed candy canes to all the good little boys and girls at Benny.
Ring Day, sponsored by the sophomore class, was a day well worth remembering. Written by the senior class officers, the ceremony was an interesting activity, from the trip over the microphone by Liz Logue, to the pancake eating contest won by Jim Yudasz.
The second annual talent show, organized (?) by the Student Council, presented acts by some of Benny's most talented students. Though everyone was excellent, two seniors walked away with prizes: Peggy Kulling first prize, and Norm Nelson third prize.
"Scribbles" was the name of the first production of the year, featuring an array of Junior and Senior dancers, and even a pantomime written by Tony Vaillancourt.
The seniors sponsored "50's Week" that was so realistic, some thought we were sent back in time. Both teachers and students alike participated in this activity, which was one of the best "boogies" of the year. Visitors like "Elvis" Melody and Kirk "Stumpy Checkers" brought back many memories of that by-gone era.
For the second time in his hockey career, Bill Hourigan graced the newspapers, this year as the prep star of the week, an honor that he truly earned. Jeff Anderson made honors for his talents on the basketball team, and Mary Taylor was the first runner up in the St. Patrick's Day Queen contest.
Mere words couldn't describe Benny's first spring musical in three years. Appropriately entitled "Simple Joys, Now and Then," the production directed by Kit Hoffman and Sylvia Swindlehurst with musical director Terri Keimeg, was called the best production Benny has ever put on. Performed in church, the cast included Norm Nelson as Christ and Ed Blaszkicwicz as John the Baptist and Judas, with Jody Carpenter, Peg Killing, Lisa Millan, Don Calamia, Liz Logue, Tony Vaillancourt, Doreen Pironello, Greg Zurawski, Mary Beth Cronin, and the team of Mike Markham and Mike Moylan. The two performances brought the house (and cast) down in tears, and will never be forgotten by anyone.
Prom, held at the Sheraton-Viscount in Windsor, was a beautiful experience, shared by 95 couples and the teachers and chaperones. The "Pre-Prom Boogie" was a smashing success, too, at the Sheraton Cadillac Hotel, Downtown.
Junior-Senior Banquet, again at the Roostertail, Honors Night, and Graduation all signaled the end of the high school career.
But a new beginning is just around the corner. As time goes on, some friendships will be kept, and others will be rekindled in years to come. Most, though, will be lost forever.
Was it worth it?
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The text on this page is reprinted from the special, end-of-the-school-year edition of The Raven, which was the publication's first-ever Senior Memory Book. It was written by Don Calamia, Cheryl Wizinsky, Michele Zarza and Liz Logue (with kibbutzing by a few others whose names are lost in the mists of time), with the cover drawn by Greg Zurawski. Content was edited solely to correct errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling. Photos accompanying the text come from multiple sources, including the memory book and various editions of the yearbook.