Aileen Simons, Pioneer Press
Updated: September 8, 2011 2:36AM
Fifty years. That’s how long it has been since some classmates of the
Niles East Class of 1961 have seen each other.
This weekend, close to 300 alumni will be convening at The Standard
Club in Chicago to reconnect and reminisce. Many of these graduates
still live in our area, including Buffalo Grove residents Irene Karpman
Lerner and her husband, Mike. The Lerners, who just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary, were high school sweethearts
who met in Band. Irene shared a story that she will remember all of her life. During the 1959-60 school year, Irene
was the student conductor. She remembers Mike being kicked out of class on more than one occasion because he often was
watching Irene so intently that he wasn’t paying attention to playing the music. Band conductor Leo Provost could be heard
down the hall shouting “Boy – out.”
The Lerners are still playing beautiful music together today as part of the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band. On Sept.
11, you will find the BGSB giving a free concert at 3 p.m. at Buffalo Grove High School as a commemoration of that tragic
event in our nation’s history.
This Niles East graduating class has really kept the lines of communication open over the years, thanks to the effort
and web talents of graduate Keith Anderson. He has created a website, www.nilehi61.com, which is really very interesting.
It is a real trip down Memory Lane with a wealth of information and more than 25 pages of pictures and commentaries that
can be enjoyed by everyone – even if you weren’t part of this graduating class.
The weekend’s reunion will see nine original band members and four original cheerleaders, all of whom will start
the evening’s festivities with several cheers. According to the Lerners, their original drum major, Bob Selby, will be present,
along with their announcer, Marvin Feinberg (of Buffalo Grove), Jeff Rovell (vocalist), Ed Nadler (trumpet) Deborah
Van McConnell (flute), Joel Sears (tenor sax), the Rev. Dick Selby (percussion) and Irene (clarinet) and Mike Lerner (trumpet).
Cheerleaders are: Pat Paul Leider, Karen Stryker Boyesen, Sue Hansen Chapman and Nancy Dell’Aringa Samuelson.
Additionally, their two original band directors will also participate. Leo Provost, 92, will be in attendance, as will 82-
year-old Charles Groeling, who now teaches in the music department at Triton College.
If you happen to be a part of this graduating class and haven’t signed up to attend the reunion yet, it’s not too late.
As graduate Bronson Davis wrote on the website “Why come to the reunion? It is certainly not to glory in the campus and
walk the halls of our beloved alma mater. There is no campus; there are no halls. Niles Township High School is a grand
memory.We were the last of the Mohegans. (The Trojan mascot limped along until the successor school, Niles East, was
also closed.) Chances are you haven’t seen most of these people for 50 years, and it is likely you won’t see them again.
These are not, however, just any people. Rather they are people with whom you came of age. They are folks with whom
you shared dreams, disappointments, hopes and triumphs. It was a time of first loves, first jobs and first cars… and we return
50 years later to celebrate the glory of our survival with the people who witnessed our first steps on the adult stage.”