Plymouth High School 1964 graduate, Jayne Lehman Heet, didn’t start attending PHS alumni banquets until she had been out of school for 25 years. A friend then asked her to organize the banquet and she hasn’t stopped since.
Every year Heet sends out mailings from her database to graduates who live out of the county, makes countless phone calls and, of course, irons out all of the details for the banquet itself.
For many years, the banquet was held at Lincoln Junior High. Heet said, “They had the tables set up, but I did the decorating, found the entertainment and coordinated the catering.” But, all of this has been a labor of love for Heet. The banquet is now held at Christo’s Banquet Hall.
With this year’s banquet only days away, Heet is making every effort to increase attendance.
She said, “When I first began with the banquet arrangements, we had 300 people attend; now it’s more like 200.” She added, “Usually people don’t start coming until they have been out of school for at least 25 years.” Heet said, “I was beginning to get a little concerned.”
Heet said, “Classes still have their own gatherings, but the PHS alumni banquet is an opportunity to see people you wouldn’t get to see at just a class reunion.”
Heet said she was a child care provider for 30 years. She said, “I’ve probably cared for some 100 children over the years, so I’ve stayed close to nearly every generation.” “I would like to see more and more graduates attend the banquet and other events in the future.”
One of the most important parts of the annual event for Heet is the presentation of the Alumni Hall of Fame recipient. Heet said, “We have such wonderful graduates.”
Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dan Tyree said he and PHS graduate Greg Renz have been thinking for two years about ways to add to the already successful banquet. Tryee said, “In future years, we hope to have events all over town on the same weekend.” Tyree said the first phone call they made to find out how others felt about an expansion was to Heet. Tyree said, “She has been the driving force behind this event for years and we knew she would have great ideas to add.”
A local businessman has made a monetary donation to launch the idea of an alumni-centered communication effort. According to Tryee, the donation will cover expenses for the first years and allow the creation of an alumni director position. An alumni board has been formed with representatives of four different generations. That board is continuing to interview perspective candidates for a director and hopes to fill the position by August of this year. The board is made up of graduates from 2003, 1997, 1981, 1973, and naturally 1964 (Heet).
Tyree said a large part of the director’s position will be producing a newsletter and setting up a website so graduates from all over the country can know what is happening locally.
Tyree said he learned firsthand about PHS graduates when he was in college. Tyree said, “When I was a student at Manchester College from 1972-1976, every PHS graduate I met was proud to be from Plymouth. Ironically, I was able to come here and experience the community pride as well.”
Tickets to this year’s banquet can be purchased through June 10 at Yoder’s Sports Center, Treat’s Squire Shop, and Dorothy’s Hallmark Shop.” The banquet will be on June 18 at 6:30 p.m.