Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Over 560 in town for Kimball All-Class Reunion


John Verser

Former Kimball cheerleader Kathy Wistrom, left, and current cheerleader Arica McCloud pep up the crowd as alumni band members play a school song behind them during the program held Saturday night at the Kimball High School All-Class Reunion.

Smiles and laughter dotted the faces throughout Harry McNees Auditorium Saturday night - the only appropriate place for the program of the Kimball High School All-Class Reunion.

More than 560 KHS graduates were in town for the weekend to attend the reunion, which was first held in 1994. Events included individual class get-togethers, cruise night, a 5K, a golf tournament, fireworks and a picnic and concert in the park. The crowning event, though, was Saturday's musical affair in the auditorium named for the longtime KHS band director who was instrumental in the reunion's beginnings over two decades ago.

"When we first set this up, I said we have to have music in the Harry McNees Auditorium," said All-Class committee member Pam Vencill Heidemann. "And, luckily, I talked to Mrs. (Cynthe) Staehr, and she said, 'Yes, we do.' I think we need to do a full choir this year, not just the choir."

Staehr, who taught music in Kimball for more than two decades, directed both the choir and band for Saturday's performance. She stepped in to direct the band at the last minute after the previous director could not make it.

"She graciously agreed to do the choir - picked out all the music, got all the music ready. All the songs, she compiled herself," Heidemann said. "Then she found out, two weeks ago, that she was also going to get to direct the band. And she graciously agreed to do that also."

Staehr was honored Saturday night as well.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be here and do this. Thank you," Staehr said.

The alumni band kicked off the evening with a tunes from a variety of genres, from gametime songs to marchings songs and more.

During a stretch to give the band a bit of a break, emcee Greg Robinson recalled a trip to Canada to play in a parade.

"When our band went to Canada in, I don't even remember what year it was," Robinson said.

"1974," came the answer from several in the crowd.

"You've got to remember it's been a while, so the parade gets longer every time I tell the story," Robinson continued. "It must have been nine or 10 miles long, right? It was three or for miles, and it was hot. It was in Calgary in July. In fact, it was over the 4th of July, I believe. So it was hot.

"Harry believed that bands played, and they didn't just march down the street and play. So, we played that song. And then, you may have got one drum cadence, and you played it again. You did that for three or four or five miles, whatever it was. It was very exhausting, but, I don't think our lips felt quite as bad back then as they do right now."

Current and former KHS cheerleaders also joined the band on stage for several school songs, leading the crowd as they did.

Josh Straub, who graduated in 2001, later came on stage to showcase the long line of KHS graduates who have excelled musically. Straub, who is a doctoral candidate at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in Austin, wowed those in attendance with a couple piano numbers. Straub has played in venues all across the world, including Antwerp, Belgium and Vienna, Austria. He is set to travel to Hong Kong this month.

The alumni choir was next, and the talented group went through a variety of tunes, from spiritual to patriotic to musicals and more.

There were several recognitions near the end of the program. Martha Mossberg, class of 1937, was noted as the oldest graduate. Steve McKenzie traveled 10,169 miles from Perth, Australia, to come to the reunion - and was easily the person who traveled the longest distance to get to Kimball. McKenzie attended KHS in the mid-1980s as a foreign exchange student from New Zealand.

The Flores family had the most graduates in attendance at 14. The business with the most known KHS graduates was FirsTier Bank with 11.

The committee also honored event chairman Kim Baliman for her work on the reunion.

"I don't know that anybody other than my mother, Karen Robinson, knows what it's like to be the overall chairman of this extravaganza," Greg Robinson said. "It is an unbelievable task. Kim will probably deny it, but she readily said yes when I asked her.

"It is an unbelievable, thankless job. It has lasted for over a year. If you see Kim tonight, even though it may not have gone exactly the way you wanted it to, give her a hug, because it's hard to plan something for 500 people."

Baliman laughed that she was "roped into it" by Robinson.

John Verser

Liz Ferguson plays the cymbals in Saturday's alumni band concert.

"Our daughter, Maggie, a Kimball graduate, she got married last fall," Baliman said. "Greg calls me about a month after the wedding and said, 'That was quite the party you threw for your daughter's wedding.' I said, 'Todd and I do a good job, don't we?' And he said, 'Yeah, it's the talk of the town. You had a great wedding.' He goes, 'Well, you should be the chairman of the All-Class Reunion.' He said, 'Do you miss it?' I said, 'Yeah."

Baliman said it was an honor to chair the event for the town and school she loves.

"Thank you all," she said. "It has been an honor to do this, and to see our town as full as it has been the last few days, this is why we do what we do, because we all love Kimball."


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