An unusual reunion is scheduled in Miami on Sunday.
Those involved with McKinley Elementary School, both students and teachers, will gather from 1 to 4 p.m. in Riverview Park.
McKinley was an elementary school located just south of Steve Owens Boulevard near where the Stables Casino stands today.
It took three years just to find a picture of the school building which was torn down in the 1960s, but the good memories the students live on.
Sam Ketcher, a McKinley graduate who now teaches history in Columbus, Kan., is among those with fond memories.
“My whole family attended McKinley,” Ketcher said. “My oldest brother in the 1930s and another in the 1940s and me in the 1950s.”
Fellow graduate Kenny Blalock, a retired grade school teacher at Baxter Springs, Kan., shared McKinley with five of his 13 siblings.
“One brother was 11 years older and another was 12 years younger,” Blalock said. “We were at that school for 25 years.”
Most schools having reunions seem to be high schools. Even a local high school had to cancel a reunion this year because of lack of response.
Those students who attended McKinley seem to have a special bond that makes the reunion possible.
“It used to be that I'd meet a fellow McKinley student at the store or someplace and we'd start talking,” Ketcher said. “I'd ask them if they would come to a reunion and they'd always say yes.”
He credits fellow alumnus, Pat Gill, with pushing to start the reunion.
Blalock and Linda Turley also worked on the reunion.
Last year's reunion, the second one, had almost 100 in attendance.
“A woman attended last year from California who graduated in 1933,” Ketcher said. “Since we're not doing a certain year, we have people of all ages and all walks of life such as doctors, lawyers and teachers.”
Ketcher was helping then principal Grace Broyles clean out some closets in the sixth grade class when he found a flag that used to hang in the classroom.
“I asked her what it was and she said an old flag,” Ketcher said. “She told me I could have it.”
Ketcher kept the flag all these years, but it was only a few years ago when he was cleaning out his own closets with the help of his brother that the discovery was made.
“My brother was the one who realized that the flag had only 46 stars not 48,” Ketcher said. “That was the flag we pledged allegiance to every day and never realized it had the number of stars from when Oklahoma joined the Union.”
The United States flag had 46 stars from 1908 to 1912 when Arizona and New Mexico joined the Union raising the number of stars to 48.
After the discovery of the number of stars was made, Ketcher had the flag professionally framed and brought it to the first McKinley reunion.
“Lots of the people attending remembered it,” he said.
“I think our reunion has been successful because it's for the whole school not just one year,” Blalock said.
Those attending the reunion are asked to bring their own drinks and class pictures.