The school memories of yearbook photos, songs, T-shirts, dolls, Wadena Orangemen letters and recognizing and remembering people from students to teachers and cooks and bus drivers will continue their display on Facebook for another year with the Wadena-Deer Creek all-school reunion postponed until June 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.
After closely monitoring the trajectory of the pandemic and Gov. Tim Walz’s orders for schools to close until May 4, Superintendent Lee Westrum said the planning committee knew there was a “good chance” the reunion would not happen this year. The uncertain factors of if large gatherings will be allowed in June and if people would register and come if gatherings were allowed also impacted the committee’s decision, according to Westrum. The postponement was posted on the Wadena-Deer Creek All-School Reunion 2020 Facebook page and the Wadena-Deer Creek Public Schools Facebook page on April 4.
“It’s disappointing,” Westrum said. “A lot of people have put a lot of effort into this so far and a lot of planning so it’s disappointing. I think it’s disappointing from the fact that the last all-school reunion had got canceled too.”
Westrum finds “some irony” that the 2020 reunion is postponed and the 2010 reunion was canceled, both under unforeseen circumstances.
“You shake your head a little bit to think that what are the odds of an all-school reunion getting canceled first by a tornado and then by a pandemic, 10 years apart,” Westrum said.
The reunion was set to include the Johnny Holm band and the Arch Allies band along with activities and displays making use of the schools and downtown areas, from art, quilt and car shows to school history. Westrum is communicating with the bands and waiting for next year’s dates to be finalized.
“They’re (the bands) working with us on finding dates next summer … so that doesn’t appear to be a problem at all,” Westrum said.
While the dates for the 2021 reunion are not set, Westrum said it will “more than likely” be in June. To host the reunion on the corresponding date of June 11, 2021 would be only one week after school is scheduled to end on June 4, 2021.
“That would be a challenge for us to turn around and a week later have the reunion. Now, could we do it? Yeah, we could do it. We’d prefer not to,” Westrum said.
The committee does plan to keep the reunion in conjunction with June Jubilee, however, since this will maximize the attendance for both events, according to Westrum.
Westrum is looking forward to a “clean slate from coronavirus by the time we have our reunion next year” and that the Hwy 10 construction project—which started on March 30 and is scheduled to go through August—will be finished.
“One silver lining to this is that … the road project will be done and so that is actually a positive because … it would have made things difficult, the parade route would have had to been altered and just getting around town would have been more difficult,” Westrum said.
If people have already registered for the reunion, they will remain registered for next year’s events unless a refund is requested, according to Westrum. Westrum also noted that people are glad the reunion wasn’t canceled.