COALTON — For the first time in 40 years, a local teacher will have the opportunity to reminisce with students he taught for consecutive years in the 1980s.
For most teachers, once a group of students crosses their class, they move on to the next year. But for Richard Leitner, who has been a teacher in the Randolph County school system for the past 40 years, one of the first classes he ever taught in West Virginia ended up sticking with him for a school year. additional.
“In 1982 I was given a class at the Coalton 12-year-old school, and because I did so well with them, I was rewarded by keeping the same pupils from fifth year to sixth year”, Leitner told The Inter-Mountain on Thursday. “So I ended up having them two years in a row, which was fine with me because they were such a great group of kids.”
This group of students and their teacher will gather for a 40th class reunion at the Lunchbox restaurant in Elkins on Sunday, October 2 at 8 a.m. The restaurant where the group meets for breakfast is owned by one of these former students, Shelia Arbogast.
“Some of the students got together and thought we should have a meeting, so I told them I would help organize it,” says Leitner. “I had several who live nearby to help me. So we’re all going to get together and share our stories about our adventures.
Leitner said some of the former students live in the area, but several are scattered across the state. He said some of those who live out of state will be coming to Elkins for the Festival of the Forest that week.
“According to one of the students, we are considering between 15 and 20 people to come to the event”, he said. “That should be a lot of fun.”
Of the 25 students in the class, Leitner says he stayed in close contact with several, including Arbogast, Missy Dillon, Brian Keefe and Stacey McCartney. He said the students chose many different professions as adults.
“Some of them have businesses, some of them work in industry, and we have some who work in forestry,” he said. “One of them was the regional manager of KFC, while another is a chef in Boston. They all chose different paths to earn a living.
In all, Leitner has 43 years of teaching experience under his belt. He was at Coalton from 1982 to 1990. He retired after 40 years, but was asked to return and continued teaching for three more years. He currently teaches Grade One and Senior English at Elkins High School.
When asked what made these two classes at Coalton so special, he said the most important thing was that the students cared about each other.
“They were a nice bunch of kids” says Leitner. “They were very nice to each other and they all had a huge desire to help each other. They were a tight-knit group that created a close bond with each other.