Class of 1953 reunites
Sayville High School Class of 1953 alumni (l-r): Harry McDiamid, Jack Beebe, Donald Walsh, Arlene Stetter James, Joan Seibert Smalto, Dr. Emil Polak (rear), Joan Burger Oswald, Jean Stonelli, Sue Anne Meisner Sachse, Rhoda Kooperstein McManus and Dorothy Schunk Steuer.


Class of 1953 reunites


SAYVILLE—Eleven graduates from Sayville High School’s Class of 1953 reunited on Friday, July 27, at Butera’s Restaurant on South Main Street in the hamlet. 

Dr. Emil Polak, a fellow alumnus who organized the reunion, moved back to his hometown last year after spending 60 years in New York City, teaching ancient and medieval history at the City University of New York. During his tenure, Polak taught over 10,000 students and took 30 trips to Europe with his wife, Patricia. 

Dr. Polak said he has kept in touch with “a few people” from his graduating class, which consisted of about 125 graduates. That number is just about half of the most recent alumni, though. Earlier this summer, 260 students graduated from Sayville High School, according to administrators. 

It’s also worth noting that over 60 years ago, Sayville School District consisted not just of Sayville and West Sayville, as it does today, but also the area now within the Connetquot and Sachem school districts as well. Connetquot School District was founded in 1963, while Sachem School District was founded in 1955.  “This group is very reunion-conscious,” Polak said, regarding those that attended last week’s event. 

Alumna Dorothy Steuer says she has kept in touch with a number of fellow graduates over the years, mainly through Christmas cards. She also explained that of the 17 marriages that came out of her graduating class, there have been no divorces. “Is that love at first sight or marrying your best friend?” she joked. 

In 1971, Steuer moved with her husband to New Hampshire, where she still resides. She maintains that even though her son gave her a ride back to her hometown, she could still drive herself. “I’m only 83,” she laughed. 

Jack Beebe recalled, all those years ago, riding his bike home from school during lunchtime. “It’s weird if you think about it,” he said. 

Beebe was the editor of the school newspaper and, in the years following graduation, he worked in broadcasting. In the late 1970s or early 80s, he recalled having a different school reunion when he ran into a college classmate, Gene Hackman, at a restaurant in New York City.  He explained that when he approached Hackman, the actor’s two bodyguards blocked him. But, after Beebe explained who he was, Hackman told his bodyguards to let him through. The two former classmates then spoke outside “for quite some time,” as though they were still in college. 

Rhoda McManus, a lifelong Oakdale resident, said she and a group of female graduates that are called “The Crew” still try to get together once a month. The frequent get-togethers began shortly after high school with bridal showers, McManus said. 

Sue Sachse, a Lake Ronkonkoma resident and longtime member of The Crew, chimed in to say that family sometimes “gets in the way” of The Crew’s meetings. 

After some reminisces outdoors, the group of 11 went on to share more memories over a luncheon inside of the restaurant.