Alumni from 1930s rehash old memories during visit to Lane

By Gabrielle Onyema &

Cecilia Hernandez


They walk into Lane with awe, remembering the myrtle and gold. There are some things they do not recognize, like the new aquaponics room, or the amount of female students rushing to class. They are Lane alumni from the 1930s.

On Sept. 27, Lane held a class reunion for former students from the 1930s and 40s classes.

The alumni revisited their old high school campus via a tour, were fed lunch, and caught up with old classmates. Current student representatives and Student Council members guided the alumni around the building. The alumni were also treated to a performance from the (boys/girls) choir.

Some of the alumni brought their family members along to share in the experience.

Robert Stoops II, the son of former Lane student Robert Stoops, class of 1941, was excited to see the school he had heard his father talk so much about.

“He has an old postcard [of the school] he keeps at the house, and he looks at it a lot. It’s kind of worn and faded, so it’s exciting to see the actual place where he grew up. It’s a civil history lesson for me,” Stoops II said.

There were a few things about Lane that the alumni recognized.

“The auditorium looks exactly the same! The same Indian painted up there,” David James said.

Others found differences in the school.

“I don’t remember the [Memorial] garden being like this. It was just starting up when I went here,” said Richard Meyers.

Some found the changes disapointing.

“It’s all so different. There’s no auto shop anymore? I would’ve liked to see the auto shop. There are so many girls here, now,” Alexander Shay said.

Many of the alumni have accomplished great things in their time after Lane. Raymond Niwa, class of 1939, participated in Lane’s music program. After graduating, Niwa spent 46 years in the Chicago Symphony.

“If not for Lane’s music program, I would not have been the professional musician that I am today,” Niwa said. He believes the program jumpstarted his passion for music.

Shay, one of the oldest alums in attendance, rose through the ranks of the Navy, becoming a top mechanic and a first class naval officer. He credits much of his success to the education he received at Lane.

“It was like going back to Lane, taking the Navy’s diesel class. The questions were the same. I was number one in my class,” Shay said.

David James, class of 1941, was a Tuskegee Airman during World War II. His friends that graduated with him, Henry Clemen and Harry Wickstrom, both joined the military for World War II as well. Clemen was a Navy soldier and Wickstrom a gunman for the Army.

“It’s good to see my old classmates again, my friends,” James said.

The three alums spoke of their time during the war, all of them starting out as fresh faced youths. All of them believed in the cause.

“I always tell people: if we didn’t stop Hitler, where would you be?” James said.

According to Wickstrom, Lane still looks very much the same to him.

“It’s a little different with the technology and all, but I still remember these halls,” Wickstrom said.