GLOVERSVILLE — It’s been 55 years since the Gloversville High School and Bishop Burke High School classes of 1968 graduated. Though the alumni are now scattered across the country, there’s something about Gloversville that keeps them all coming back — and giving back.
Mary Ivancic oversees the group’s reunions. She said the events highlight the graduates’ commitment to their home city.
“We really try our best to be as local as possible and give back to the community. People can go downtown if they wish or visit the high school,” Ivancic said. “We want to make it a weekend that’s just as much about where we grew up as it is about the class.”
Over 50 alumni from the two local schools will return to Gloversville on Friday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 9, celebrating their 55th reunion. To honor their roots, the graduates will plant trees in Darling Field that Saturday morning. This gesture reflects the Class of 1968’s tradition of local philanthropy; for their 50th reunion, the alumni donated an entrance sign to Gloversville High School.
“One thing I know our class values, besides the high school, is the library,” Ivancic said. “We love the Gloversville Library. When it came time to get new infrastructure for the building, I know most of us who could donated money to restore it.”
Ivancic added that the alumni cherish their memories of growing up in Gloversville. In the 1960s, she said, the city was a bustling hub of the leather industry. Ivancic and her classmates spent their time exploring the downtown business district, cheering on their school sports teams and forging lifelong friendships.
John Ackerknecht, co-chair of the reunion committee alongside Ivancic, also remembers his high school years fondly.
“Everybody on the committee is always interested in getting our classmates together because even though ‘68 was a pretty tumultuous year in history, it is also one that we look back on as the ending to a great high school career at GHS,” Ackerknecht said.
The Gloversville Reunion Band, featuring ‘68 alumni Rick Armstrong and Dominic Priolo, performs live music from the ‘60s at various events. Armstrong put the band together in 2018, recruiting professional musicians from other classes to bring a piece of that era back to Gloversville.
“It’s a way to take a trip back in time,” said Armstrong, who plays the keyboard. “Most people don’t get to relive a part of their youth. That’s what we do for people.”
The band’s first gig was the Class of 1968’s 50th reunion. That performance earned them some attention, and they have played shows nearly every summer since.
“We don’t do it for the money; we just have fun. We all knew each other as kids,” Armstrong said. “These guys are all really talented, so all I have to do is put them together.”
The Reunion Band will perform live at the Hales Mills Country Club at 6 p.m. Friday, where alumni will also enjoy buffet-style food and a cash bar. In addition to this gathering, the reunion committee has planned a full weekend of activities.
“We want to give a lot of opportunities for people to communicate,” Ackerknecht explained.
On Friday at 5 p.m., graduates will meet for drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the country club. The next day, the group will mingle at the Brass Monkey from noon to 3 p.m. Reunion organizers encourage their classmates to enjoy as many events as possible.
“We’re in our early 70s, so there are no guarantees,” Armstrong said. “If you have the money to travel or you live in the area, you’re crazy not to come to this reunion.”
Ivancic said that although the graduates now live in vastly different places, their bond is as strong as ever.
“When you graduate from high school, reunions are the last thing you’re thinking about. For us to have been in touch and remained so close for 55 years is incredible,” Ivancic said. “People want to be part of it.”