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Alumni reminisce about days gone by at West Linn High School with tour, game attendance

TIDINGS PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Sarah Colarchik, left, and Kim Leaming chat during a reunion tour of the West Linn Class of 74.The West Linn High School class of 1974 held its45-year reunion last week. Attendees toured the high school campus, which has changed significantly in the decades since they graduated; watched the Friday night home football game Sept. 20; and gathered to eat, drink, and reminisce.

"This is a class that likes to have reunions," said Gretchen Root Mortensen, a 1974 graduate, before the reunion. Mortensen attended a few of the reunions in the past, but hadn't gone to one in 20 years. Mortensen now lives in Wichita, Kansas, but attended the reunion while she was in town visiting family. She and her husband of 44 years met at the high school and went on to have three children graduate from the school.

Other alumni have stayed closer to home. Steve Dodge lives in the Portland metro area and said he has attended most, if not all, of the reunions.

"Each reunion has been more and more a true coming together as a class," Dodge said. TIDINGS PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Sue Bradley, center, points out changes in the West Linn gymnasium during a tour for members of the Class of 74."Everybody is pretty comfortable with themselves as people, and it's just really nice to get together that way and just remember all the silly stuff we did."

Dodge, who later had a career as a reporter, had his first foray into journalism as a writer at the school paper, The Amplifier. "We did a couple April Fools type issues that got us in trouble with the administration, which was a lot of fun," Dodge said. Dodge spent his career in communications, first as a reporter and later working for universities and nonprofits.TIDINGS PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Alumni of the West Linn Class of 74 applaud a performance from the West Linn production of Chicago.

Larry Doty, another alumni, was the men's basketball coach and a teacher at WLHS in the mid-80s before moving into similar roles at his alma mater, Linfield College. Doty and his now-wife and fellow West Linn graduate Devri Sharp became high school sweethearts after they met picking strawberries.

"It's just fun to go back and see people that you went to school with, that were in your communities, that you haven't seen in a long time," Doty said.

"I loved being at school, it's the reason I chose education as a profession, because I had a really good experience in my four years at West Linn High School," Doty explained.

A number of alumni said life was simpler when they were in high school.

"It was at a point in time in history when life was simpler,"Doty said. "When there was a basketball game, or a football game, that's what everyone went to. Those were those events, that's where our social connection was. Things have changed, there's much more things for students to do."

Mortensen is often back in West Linn, visiting her five siblings and more than a dozen nieces and nephews who graduated from WLHS.TIDINGS PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Members of the West Linn Class of 74, including Mike Perce, center, reconnected on Friday during a tour of the campus.

"Being a parent and a grandparent myself, I'm just really glad that I'm not trying to raise kids today," Mortensen said. "It was just a different time, as far as we could go out by ourselves, or go play. A lot of kids don't do that now, I just think that's really sad."

"You always hear the older people, regardless of when, saying 'Oh, things were simpler in my day.' And I think that's true" she added. "With every generation there's a new set of problems and new worries."TIDINGS PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Classmates from the West Linn Class of 74 check out the schools athletic awards during a Friday tour.  6. Sue Bradley, left, talks about West Linns auditorium during a tour for members of the Class of 74.

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