By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Rattler Reunion drew 400 Tucumcari High School alumni back to the city over the weekend.
On Saturday, the Golden Rattler Luncheon was held at the Tucumcari Convention Center for the alumni from the class of 1964 or earlier.
This year’s attendance was the same as last year’s reunion, said Pam Clark, a reunion coordinator.
Clark said there were about 300 who registered on Friday for the reunion, with several people coming in Friday night just for the banquet and dance. She said the same thing happened for Saturday night’s banquet and dance.
Retired teacher and City Commissioner Ruth Ann Litchfield welcomed the Golden Rattlers to the city.
“This is one of the rare times that I speak to a group of graduated students and can honestly say I didn’t teach any of you,” Litchfield said. “That is a unique feeling to have, since I taught for 32 years here in Tucumcari.”
Litchfield said when she moved to Tucumcari 40 years ago, she couldn’t believe that she was moving to a place with a Rattler as a mascot or that she’d have a sign in the front yard reading, “Home of a Rattler.”
“I know the Tucumcari of today is not the same as Tucumcari you remember,” Litchfield said. “Although many good things are on the horizon for our home town.”
Litchfield said several businesses have come to town and some are in the process of million-dollar expansions. She said the Sands Dorsey building is in the process of being torn down and work continues to improve the downtown area.
“We are making progress in returning Tucumcari to days of prosperity,” Litchfield said.
The guest speaker for the Golden Rattler Luncheon was Mesalands Community College President Thomas Newsom, who spoke to the alumni about the work Mesalands is doing to help make Tucumcari prosper. He said the graduation rate at Mesalands this past year was 32 percent, a number that could be greater, but was the greatest among all community colleges in the state.
Newsom said Mesalands continues to form partnerships with universities and other higher educational institutions to benefit the education of its students. He said the college also has worked to make courses more affordable to students, increasing their desire to enroll, as well as adding courses like the certified nursing assistant and phlebotomy class that already has a three-semester waiting list.
“Mesalands continues to work toward making education affordable to our students and providing certifications and associate degrees in fields with high demand,” Newsom said.
During the reunion, there were clusters of classmates gathered at the Tucumcari Convention Center to reminisce about the days past.
This year, 30 members of the class of 1955 attended the reunion, said Betty Coslett, class of ‘55 graduate.
Coslett said she was excited that so many of her classmates were able to attend the reunion.
The two-day reunion featured many events for returning Rattlers to enjoy, including a golf tournament and a basketball game between different graduating classes.
The class of 1985 was the host class for this year’s Rattler Reunion.
Celebrating their 50th class reunion was the THS class of Class of 1965.
When the class of 1965 graduated from Tucumcari High, the Tucumcari Daily News reported it was the largest graduating class to date from the school.
On graduation day, 168 Rattlers received their diploma.
The guest speaker for the class of 1965 was Steve Yarbrough, who discussed the 1957 Quay County Little League All-Stars, who made it to the semi-final round of the Little League World Series and lost 1-0 to La Mesa, California in San Francisco California.
R. Kelly McFarland, a resident and class of 1965 alumnus helped Yarbrough with the collection of articles from archived Tucumcari Daily News editions.
McFarland said he was looking forward to seeing some people he had not seen since graduation. He said it will be nice to find out what people had done in their lives and what they were doing now.