Melissa (Lee) Tocco, from Clinton Township; Bonnie (Willert) Boyd, from Clarkston; Deb (Ziegler) Facknitz, from Colorado Springs; and Debbi Locke, from Almont, celebrate as members of the Stevenson High School Class of 1970 during a July 13 class reunion at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township.

Melissa (Lee) Tocco, from Clinton Township; Bonnie (Willert) Boyd, from Clarkston; Deb (Ziegler) Facknitz, from Colorado Springs; and Debbi Locke, from Almont, celebrate as members of the Stevenson High School Class of 1970 during a July 13 class reunion at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Fifty years later, Stevenson alumni share memories

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published July 19, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS — While recalling his memories of being part of the Stevenson High School Class of 1969, Len Gavin said that his graduation year was a good one.

“It was one of the greatest years in the history of the country,” he said. “(It was) the first time we landed on the moon. That was the year of Woodstock. That was the last year the Beatles played together.

“I’m really proud to say I graduated in ’69.”

An estimated 200 alumni from Stevenson’s classes of 1969-1972 celebrated and reminisced at a 50-year class reunion July 13 at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township, according to organizers. According to Stevenson’s website, the school was established in 1968.

Gavin, who now lives in Howell, said he moved to the Sterling Heights area back when it was Sterling Township, in 1965. He said he and his peers made their mark on the school when it opened. For example, he said the class created a fight song that lasted at the school for several decades. They also came up with the Titans name and the school colors, he said.

“Everything that Stevenson is now is what we created,” he said.

Debbie Burke, one of the reunion organizers, is from Stevenson’s Class of 1971. She said she went by Debbie Rae, her maiden name, when she was in school. She now lives in Minnesota.

Burke said the reunion organizers looked for 2,089 people and located around 800 for invitations, though about 175 of the latter were deceased.

“We did this five years ago and had a big turnout and decided to do it five years later for the 50th (anniversary),” she said. “We were a bunch of wild people back then. Nothing like living in the Motor City back in the ’60s.”

Burke said that when Stevenson first opened, some students had to take classes at both Stevenson and Utica high schools, and the situation was chaotic. She also remembers the mood of the country, particularly with the war.

“I lost my boyfriend at Vietnam,” she said. “For 11th and 12th grade, I was absent mentally. A lot of those kids didn’t graduate because they left school to join the service.

“We had kids that got held back in school because they had to go back to take care of sick parents. We got a lot of parents that worked in the factories. It was the best of times and the worst of times.”

When it came to after-school activities, Burke said many students spent time at the Motor City Dragway, which she said “was like being in the movie ‘Grease.’” She said Utica along Van Dyke Avenue was a popular hangout spot for the high schoolers.

Another hangout spot was Stony Creek, she explained.

“We all showed up at Stony Creek the first day it opened,” she said. “The whole place was packed.”

Although Burke said the reunion’s turnout wasn’t what organizers had expected, the attendees still enjoyed it.

“Everybody just had a blast,” she said. “In fact they want to do it again in two years.”

Find out more about Stevenson High School by visiting stevenson.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1900.

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