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Original Thunderbolts Return to Stomping Grounds After 40 Years

Victor J. Andrew alumni from the classes of 1980-1985 returned to their alma mater to celebrate Homecoming and reminisce about their days as T-bolts.

Andrew High School opened with the classes of ‘80 and ‘81 - approximately 700 students. According to Class of 1983 alumna and District 230 Director of Assessment Dawn Reuter-Cox, “As we grew, we were very all-inclusive. We were in classes, sports, music, theater, and clubs together. The grade level separations that many high schools have did not seem to happen until after 1985.”

Nearly 100 alumni took a tour of the high school and watched the Friday night football game, prior to joining another 150 classmates at their Saturday night get-together. Reuter-Cox served as one of the tour guides and said, “It is always fun to go to VJA and see the halls you walked in as you dreamed of what you wanted to be when you grew up. It was so fun to show my high school friends how much VJA has changed and how much it has stayed the same.”

“Today, the student population is far more diverse, but other than that not a lot has changed. VJA is still a very spirited school that thrives on academic, athletic and artistic excellence!,” Reuter-Cox added. 

There were several tour highlights, including the theater, which did not exist when the reunion-goers went to school 40 years ago; they actually performed in what is now the library. Today, the pool is different, the upstairs gym is new, and the weight room is dedicated to a friend from the 80’s. Reuter-Cox said, “I also want to share the decades wall - it is so cool to point out folks we know in the earlier pictures.” 

Reunion co-organizer Vicki Crawford said, “After announcing the Class of 1983 was planning a reunion, we were approached by other classes who were unable to hold a reunion due to COVID restrictions.” Fellow organizer Bob Ciesla agreed, “It worked out great because there are incredible friendships between the classes. We were all friends with each other (freshman – senior).”

The reunion Facebook page includes a few teacher greetings. Ciesla said, “The teachers have no idea the impact that they make on students, even at the high school level.” 

Former biology and anatomy teacher Tom Eirmann said, “Your classes set remarkable standards in both academic and athletic areas that make Victor J. Andrew such a great school.”  Graphic Arts teacher and coach Ken Ogrodowski echoed that sentiment, wished the alums a great reunion, and said, “As a teacher, you don’t always know the impression or impact you have on a student. I hope your memories of me are positive ones.”

Dawn Reuter-Cox gives fellow classmates a tour of the Performing Arts Center.

Andrew High School alumni from the early ‘80s look for classmates they recognize on the Decades Wall as part of their reunion tour.

Andrew alumna recognizes someone on the 1980’s Decades Wall while reminiscing with fellow classmates as part of their 40th reunion.

District 230 Director of Assessment Dawn Reuter Cox, Andrew alumna and former teacher, takes fellow former classmates on a tour of their alma mater.