HARROD — While Allen East schools now has a storied tradition, such as its marching brass band, the recognizable color combination of blue and white, and the iconic Mustang mascot, things were very different during the 1965-66 school year, the school’s first year of existence after Harrod’s Auglaize Local schools and Lafayette’s Jackson schools were combined into a new school district.
As the first graduating class from that new school district gathered for a 50th anniversary reunion Saturday at the Allen East Community Center, 40 of the 100 graduates took time to catch up and reflect on that first year. However, as former class president Tom Fleming, a former Lafayette student, said, some of the names were only vaguely familiar, because some of the Harrod and Lafayette students did not have a lot of chances to get to know each other.
“Some of us didn’t have classes together,” he said. “It brought together two classes that didn’t really know each other that well.”
While Fleming acknowledged it was probably a little tough for some of the parents and alumni of the former Auglaize Local Wildcats and the Lafayette Jackson Wolves, formerly rival schools, consolidation was not as big an issue on the whole for the students, he said. In fact, it was the first year’s student body that helped begin some of the traditions that make Allen East what it is today, even down to the name of the school itself.
“We selected the name of the school, the mascot of the school, and the colors of the school,” he said. “The community brought options together and the student body voted on it.”
Instead of “Hail, Hail to Allen East,” the fight song lyric may have read, “Hail, Hail to Eastern Allen,” or East Allen or even Tawa Local, the other options for the school name. While there were also other options for the school mascot, Fleming had trouble remembering them because at the time, his heart was fully set on the Mustang.
“Mustang cars were very popular at that time,” he said. “And there were no other schools around that had that mascot.”
While some students moved away, others now have as many as three generations of their progeny at the school, proudly wearing the blue and white colors those first students chose.
“We will always have a history with the new Allen East school,” Fleming said. “We’re still part of that school that still exists today.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.