When Willis Intermediate School sixth-grade students were dismissed at the end of the school year this spring, they became the last entire fifth-grade class to attend the school. For three of those students, being in the last class at Willis runs in the family.
Lifelong Delaware resident Shirley Brimhall Welsh graduated from Willis High School in 1961 as part of the last outgoing senior class, 55 years before her three great-grand-children, Aidan Huff, Emylee Graves and Ethen Terry completed their fifth-grade year as the last school’s outgoing fifth-grade class.
This was the last year for fifth- and sixth-grade students at Willis as the school district moves fifth grade to the elementary schools and moved sixth grade to Dempsey Middle School.
Welsh said Saturday is her class’ 55-year reunion party at a classmate’s home.
“This year we celebrate our 55-year reunion so I wanted to express how proud I am of not just 55 years but even some of us have kept the friendship active since grade school,” Welsh said.
Welsh said the several members of her class will be going on vacations together this year and said this is a regular occurrence. Welsh said one of her classmates even keeps up with everyone’s birthday.
“We’re just a really close group,” said fellow class of 1961 graduate Terri Bischoff. “It’s a neat, neat group and it’s so important that we are there for each other.”
Bischoff said many of her classmates have stayed or returned to Delaware and continue to be there in times of need.
“We are at an age when so many people’s parents are dying but we are always there to support each other,” Bischoff said.
Welsh hopes that her family is as lucky as she is to find good friends.
“I wish for the young kids of my family and all young ones that they can have half of the luck I had in making good choices of friends that have lasted a lifetime, having each other’s back,” Welsh said. “Like a family.”
Welsh said Delaware has changed and grown a lot in the 55 years since she graduated but said she hopes people take a positive attitude toward the city.
“We lived in better times,” Welsh said. “I wish for people to make good choices so our young family can have it, too!”