STELLA — Back in 1964, 27 Stella High School seniors graduated from the high school, marking the end of the Stella High School.

STELLA — Back in 1964, 27 Stella High School seniors graduated from the high school, marking the end of the Stella High School.

On Sunday, classmates from not only the class of 1964, but other classmates from the Stella school attended the annual Stella All School Reunion, held at the Triway School cafeteria.

Four classmates from 1964 who attended the reunion were Joyce Farley, Lynne Hailey, Sharon Miller and Patsy Steinbach.

The Neosho Daily News caught up with these four women and asked them some questions about the reunion.

NDN: How pleased are you to be here today?
Farley: I am very happy to be here today.
Hailey: Very happy because there are people here that we have not seen since I graduated.
Miller: It is great to be here, to see some old friends and just to be together again.
Steinbach: I have not seen some of these girls in ages.

NDN: Were you four ladies good friends back then?
Hailey: Everyone was, it was a small class. We knew everybody.

NDN: What is a memorable moment that you had here at Stella High School?
Miller: I think just the fact that we realized that we were the last class to graduate from Stella High School. And that it would not be the same anymore that made it very special to me. It was a little bit sad, but at the same time, we were proud, Stella High School graduates.
Farley: The plays, we had plays in our junior and senior year. We would all be somebody else. When we had it (plays) the gym was full of people.
Hailey: The first thing that popped into my mind was the old school burning, and having to go to Crowder. It (the school burning) was when we were in junior high.

NDN: Did you meet your sweetheart here at Stella?
Steinbach: I met (my sweetheart) down at the old Williams School house. We have lived in Anderson every since then and this is my first time to ever be in this new school, because I don’t come back to Stella that often.
Farley: I met the love of my life 42 years ago from Midway School.
Miller: I met him (Ed) while I was still in school, but he was a Kansas boy, I met him on a blind date.

NDN: As stated, you were the last graduating class of Stella High School, how sad was that for you?
Farley: At that time, I was very happy (to graduate), I was happy to get out of school. But then later on as you think about it, it was sad.
Hailey: Probably about the same, just the excitement of graduating. You are 17 or 18, I don’t think that every entered my mind at the time until later (about the last class to grad from Stella High School).
Miller: I think that it was exciting to think about graduating. Me made pledges to each other that we would stay so close and in touch. And here we are 50 years later, some of us have not seen each other for 45 years or whatever.

NDN: How important is it for you and others to have reunions?
Miller: I think that it is important, I just think the memories, and the life experiences and all of those kinds of things is who we are. It just helps us grow and keeps us in perspective of where life is. I love reunions.
Hailey: I am hoping the (class) behind us Karen Clanton, they will be the first Triway, that they will maybe keep this going. … If not here, someplace. It would be nice.

Background info

Stella has a rich history of schools. The first school dates back to the 1900s, when the citizens of Stella decided to build an academy. According to the book “From Buzzard Glory to Seed Tick: A History of the schools in Newton County, Missouri” (page 246), “although a grade school had existed in the area for some years, this was the first attempt to offer a high school education. Tuition for the year 1900 was $18, six months tuition was $15 and less than six months was $3 a month.”

According to Stella High School class of 1945 Phyllis Cullers, in a previous interview with the Neosho Daily News, remembered that the first high school was a two-story building, located where the Stella Baptist Church sits. Some of the students played basketball and to practice, they would play outside, seeing that there was no gymnasium.

“There was a community building where Taylor Tax Service is now,” said Cullers. “And that is where they had the activities.”

The first high school burnt in 1935. In 1936, a new structure was built with the help of the WPA labor. It was located on the same site as where the Triway Elementary School is located. The second school was a 12-grade level school, one story. However, the second school burnt in 1959. The last graduating class of Stella was in 1964. Stella joined with Fairview and Midway (near Stark City and Newtonia) to form Triway School District. A couple of years later, Triway joined with Granby to form East Newton School District in 1967.

During Sunday’s reunion, a Triway School reunion committee voted to continue the reunion.