‘Regina girls’ bring former school’s spirit to Salem Heights

2-photos-regina-girls-bring-former-schools-spirit-to-salem-heightsLeft, classmates gather at a reunion of the 1950 Regina High School class reunion June 3 at Salem Heights. Back row from left, Philomina Picciano Dillhoff, Loretta Riley Luers, Joan Meyer Augenstein, Mary Lou Hewitt Weber, Marilyn McDermott Clements, Joan Schneider Crable, Pat Martin Benken, Ann Burwinkel Murray. Front row from left, Mary Kuntz Smiley, Margie Morford Donnell, Barb Reinhart Powers, Mary Oaks Shea, Precious Blood Sister Katie Lett. Right, from left, Mary Oaks Shea, Ann Burwinkel Murray, Pat Martin Benken (background), and Philomina Picciano Dillhoff sing during the liturgy recognizing the ‘Regina Girls.’

There were plenty of laughs, hugs and even a few tears on June 3 as 13 members of the 1950 Regina High School class gathered at Salem Heights for a reunion.

As the ‘Regina Girls’ shared stories of their high school days, the years faded away and the spirit of the former high school in Norwood, Ohio, came alive. There were stories of Precious Blood Sisters M. Conrada Schneider, an excellent math and algebra teacher; M. Peregrine  Braun, who taught sewing and domestic arts; Dorothy Kammerer (M. Fidelia), head of the business department; and Madonna Winklejohn (M. Ireanea), a science teacher and later principal.

“The whole reunion day was really so tremendous, sharing memories. It was interesting because everyone just wanted to talk about Regina, the good times we had and the crazy things that happened,” said Precious Blood Sister Katie Lett (M. Joseph Marie), who was class president junior and senior years. “It was just turning back the clock.”

The ‘Regina girls’ attended Mass, toured Salem Heights, and had lunch with the community before gathering around dining tables to talk. Soon the memories and stories started flowing. Sister Katie hosted the reunion.

Mary Kuntz Smiley recalled a time when she and Rosalie (Mickey) McQuaide remembered sneaking some ice cream out of a freezer at Regina and were eating it when they heard a Sister coming. They ran into the girls’ bathroom and threw the treats out the window.

Though the memories were often funny and sometimes sad, one theme emerged: Regina was a place where classmates became friends for life.

“You always felt that everybody in the class was your friend,” said Pat Martin Benken. “We were always together as friends. I really enjoyed Regina.”

Sometimes, though, friendship can take an interesting turn, as Sister Katie found out the summer after high school and a week before entering the community. Some of her classmates took her to a bar in Cincinnati, and ordered her a Zombie, a cocktail with three different kinds of rum, sugar and two different fruit juices. “I never drank,” Sister Katie said. “They always enjoyed drinking. They didn’t tell me what they got me until I started feeling lightheaded.”

Through the years, the bonds formed at Regina never broke.

“I can’t get through life without friends,” Sister Katie said. “I also feel, with these girls, I know each of them by name, and I just really love them. We discovered that even though it’s been 62 years since we graduated that love has been everlasting.”

– Story and photos by Dave Eck

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