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OHS Alum Celebrate 125 Years Of School
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This clipping from an 1893 issue of The Oakdale Graphic, predecessor to The Leader, lists names of those attending Oakdale Union High School on opening day in September.

It has been 125 years since the first graduating class earned its diplomas from Oakdale High School. A fact which is both notable and deserving of a proper celebration.

To both honor as well as make the event memorable, a committee of close to one dozen alum, led by co-chairs Charlyn Bairos and Julia Haidlen, spent the majority of the year planning for the 125th Oakdale High School All Class Reunion, complete with events scheduled for Homecoming Week in mid-October.

Committee member and OHS Class of 1959 graduate Melinda Owen shared that it was no easy feat reaching graduates from the past, working to make contact with all those that remained from the 125-year history. Owen herself has been an active participant for her own graduating class reunion, yet noted this event was one unique unto itself.

A limited budget, however, made the outreach more difficult than the traditional route of contact by mail. According to Owen, through the power of social media and constant on-line efforts by co-chair Charlyn Bairos, many graduates have been not only reached but accommodated.

A total of 700 seats were made available for the reunion event taking place at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club on Saturday, Oct. 13. Much to the surprise and joy of the committee, the Saturday evening event has sold out. Events leading up to the anniversary evening are still open to graduates and the committee hopes to see as many taking part as possible to enjoy the festivities.

Anticipating out of town guests returning to the area, the committee has arranged three days of events from Thursday, Oct. 11 through Saturday, Oct. 13. Festivities will begin Thursday night at the Oakdale Museum. Hosting a generous size Oakdale High School area, complete with past yearbooks and historical memorabilia, an open house with refreshments will be hosted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum on West F Street. A barbecue, beverages and classic car display is scheduled on site from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. that same evening.

It’s the following day’s activity, however, which has Owen the most excited. Hosting the event in conjunction with Oakdale High School’s Homecoming Week provided a number of ideal opportunities including the Homecoming parade.

“Growing up in the ‘50s when the Korean War was over the kids got cars,” Owen reminisced.

“That was our social thing,” she said of cruising.

Owen has arranged for 20 classic cars to be featured in the OHS Homecoming Parade on Friday, Oct. 12 starting at 1 p.m.

A 2019 fire engine red Ford Mustang will lead the alumni classic cars, as well as two floats with alumni on board. The parade route will run along G Street which will be temporarily closed for the event.

Owen also shared the excitement received from out of area alumni has not just been steady, but exciting as well. One alum plans on traveling for the week’s events from Nampa, Idaho with his 1974 260Z.

Friday night, all OHS alumni are encouraged to attend ‘Friday night lights’ football at the Corral for the Homecoming game as Oakdale hosts Kimball. A section of the stands will be taped off for OHS alumni.

To round out the activities a tour of the OHS campus will be available for all interested on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A taco truck will also be on site offering food and beverages to attendees.

“It feels good,” Owen said of seeing the events come to fruition just a few weeks out.

“This is not just Oakdale,” she added of alumni history. “In the past it was Oakdale, Riverbank, Waterford, Knights Ferry, Valley Home, Milnes, La Grange, all the little towns around.”

Owen herself was a Riverbank girl, who came to Oakdale and not only earned a high school diploma, but met the love of her life in her late husband Bill.

“In many cases the kids from outside became the leaders of the school. We banded together,” she said. “If I had not come to Oakdale, I probably would not have had the last name of Owen. I met a handsome man from Oakdale, fell in love and moved to the ‘Big City’.”

For additional information or questions regarding events visit or call Charlyn Bairos at (209) 380-3668.