DuBois High School cancels reunion, prepares for next year

DuBois High School alumni Howard “Red” Scott and Robert Toles look over memorabilia at the DuBois on Main Museum in Mount Hope in August 2016. The annual DuBois High School Reunion, normally held over Labor Day weekend, has been canceled this year due to coronavirus concerns. (Register-Herald file photo)

After canceling the 2020 DuBois High School reunion due to coronavirus concerns, reunion committee members and their fellow alumni are instead looking forward to next year’s reunion – but not without disappointment.

“We were terribly upset that we had to cancel," said Howard Scott, reunion president of 15 years and graduate of the class of 1956. "I was in the last class and I will be 83 next week. I’m one of the younger ones.

"Some of the older ones are now hoping that they will be here for it next year," Scott said. "We have gotten some feedback and people are upset. They think we should still have it but it’s just not the right thing to do.”

Although the school closed and was integrated with other schools to create Mount Hope High School in 1956, the first DuBois reunion was not held until September 1972. The Labor Day weekend event was a three-day affair attended by former teachers, parents, students, and community members.

The DuBois reunions were never limited to graduates. Those who moved out of state would often bring friends and family members along, making the get-together more a big family reunion rather than an academic one.

People would travel from across the state, the country and even the world to attend.

According to Scott, the farthest anyone traveled was from Europe and, from within the United States, Alaska.

The reunions begin on Friday with a get-together in the evening. On Saturday, the group usually tours the Exhibition Coal Mine and the old Dubois school grounds in the morning, followed by a dinner and dance in the evening. The celebration concludes on Sunday with a morning church service and a picnic.

The gathering was every three years until 1983 when it was changed to every two years. The every-other-year model continues to be how the event is scheduled, with the exception of 2005 when it was postponed until the following year to coincide with the school’s 100th anniversary.

In the beginning, the reunion had an average attendance of between 500 and 600 people. It was in Beckley because there simply wasn’t a hotel or conference center in Fayetteville large enough to hold everyone.

Scott stated that only around 200 people attended the reunion in 2018 and, because of this decrease in size, the reunion has recently been held at the Holiday Lodge in Oak Hill.

Invitations are mailed in March, Scott said, so people can make necessary traveling accommodations.

Today, most of the attending graduates live in-state or in a neighboring state.

This year, however, the invitations were not even mailed before the decision was made to cancel the event.

“We could see this virus wasn’t going to end and even though we aren’t meeting until Labor Day, we didn’t want to send out invites and then have to cancel later.”

Scott said that while he hated the decision to cancel, keeping everyone safe and healthy is far more important. 

For more information on the history of DuBois High School and its reunions visit www.duboisonmain.org.

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