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Ranger School Alumni Flock to Wanakena


WANAKENA, N.Y. - Several hundred people are expected to gather August 7 and 8 at the New York Ranger School in Wanakena to celebrate the school's 64th reunion.

The annual event usually draws about 200 alumni and more than 300 family members to the campus. They fill motels from Watertown to Tupper Lake, occupy the school's dorm rooms and camp out on the campus athletic field. This year's reunion will involve alumni who represent more than 70 years of Ranger School history, including a member of the Class of 1927.

Reunion weekends have helped forge bonds among members of different graduating classes. "The Class of 1950 and the Class of 1990 have somehow hit it off," said Christopher Westbrook, a member of the Class of 1973 who is now director of the Ranger School. "They meet at a rock in the ball field and talk and have a great time together.

"Alumni reunions are just great. There's something going on every minute," Westbrook said. "We've made it a family-oriented reunion, so it's not just Mom or Dad coming back and saying, 'Oh, remember when....'"

The Ranger School is part of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse. Students spend their first year of college at another institution, then transfer to the Ranger School for their sophomore year. They earn associate in applied science degrees after a rigorous year of classroom and field study. The Ranger School was founded in 1912 and is the oldest forest technology school in North America.

This weekend's events will include tours of the school's Dubuar Memorial Forest, a slide show on Adirondack wildlife and opportunities to participate in a golf tournament, a fun run and boat tours.

Athletic equipment will be available all weekend at the athletic field.

A schedule of the weekend's events follows. There are fees for meals and some activities, and early registration is suggested for some events.

Friday, Aug. 7

  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: registration.
  • 12:30 p.m.: boat trip around Cranberry Lake.
  • 1 to 4 p.m.: Open house, Spaulding Memorial Alumni House; sea plane rides over the Ranger School area.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Esker Pond walk with Dr. Michael Bridgen.
  • 2 p.m.: van tours around Dubuar Memorial Forest with Ranger School faculty members.
  • 5 and 6 p.m. (two seatings): barbecue at the pavilion.
  • 7 p.m.: hypnotist Bob Shelley, pavilion; slide show, "Loons and Other Adirondack Wildlife," with Gary Lee, Class of '63, main classroom.

Saturday, Aug. 8

  • 7:15 and 8:15 a.m. (two seatings): breakfast, dining room.
  • 9 a.m. to noon: "Penelope the Clown and Sneakers" present activities for children, front lawn.
  • 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.: registration continues.
  • 9:30 a.m.: business meeting, athletic field.
  • 10 a.m.: coffee hour and stained glass demonstration, director's house.
  • noon: class photos, athletic field.
  • 12:15 p.m.: lunch, pavilion.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Third Annual Dan Castagnozzi Memorial Golf Tournament, Star Lake.
  • 1 p.m.: basketmaking demonstration, pavilion.
  • 1 to 4 p.m.: seaplane rides over Ranger School area.
  • 1:30 p.m.: boat ride to ESF's Cranberry Lake Biological Station.
  • 2 p.m.: van tours around Dubuar Memorial Forest with Ranger School faculty members; Appleton Paper Mill tour, Newton Falls. Children under 14 not permitted on tour.
  • 3 p.m.: Seventh Eugene Ohlson Memorial Ranger School Fun Run, student parking lot.
  • 4 p.m.: autograph session with Jim Burnett, author of Sporting in a Foreign Land, athletic field.
  • 5:30 p.m.: chicken barbecue, pavilion.
  • 7 p.m.: awards ceremony, pavilion.
  • 7:30 p.m.: raffle, pavilion.
  • dark: bonfire, athletic field.