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Duluth News Tribune | 10/15/2005 | Denfeld spirit strong at age 100
"Every place was booked," said Denfeld economics teacher and alumni association member Joe Vukelich of the venues that might be able to accommodate an all-class reunion."The (Denfeld) roof was being fixed, Grand Avenue was being torn up; it seemed like someone was trying to tell us something."Vukelich
said the alumni association is planning a reunion for 2009, when the first class graduated.The last Denfeld all-class reunion, organized for 1976, was supposedly the largest high school reunion on record, said Vukelich, who graduated from Denfeld in 1977.
If other alumni are as passionate about the school as Vukelich
, the next reunion will not be a small gathering.The school's dcor last week was a testament to the pride that still runs rampant through the dark halls of Denfeld
"We're very fortunate we have that environment," Vukelich
Duluth News Tribune | 08/31/2005 | TIME IN A BOTTLE
Joe Vukelich, a Denfeld economics and government teacher, said the school building, which opened Sept. 8, 1926, has many secrets waiting to be discovered.Much of the school's architecture has a deeper meaning that was not made clear when it was built, and secrets are being unlocked all the time, he said.
Old news articles indicate that Denfeld
has another time capsule located near the corner of 44th Avenue West and Sixth Street.Students can learn much from the discovery of objects such as Eugene's message, he
"Most Denfeld students and alumni realize they are part of something larger than themselves," Vukelich
Duluth News Tribune | 08/15/2005 | Signs of the time 60 years ago
Denfeld economics and government teacher Joe Vukelich, who gives tours of the school, said the tunnel has been part of Denfeld lore for ages.Barrels of water and cases of hardtack were rumored to have been stored there, though most of the school's shelters were reconverted to storage spaces sometime in the 1980s.Vukelich
ironically added that the tunnel didn't give as much protection as first intended, because of the way the ventilation system drew air from the outside.
"I don't think this could have kept out radiation or fallout," he
said, because a large fan pushed air through the tunnel.
The school got off to a slow start, wrote West Duluth resident Joe Vukelich in his book, "Come Back Home, A History of Denfeld High School":
"... West Duluth and the city were skeptical that the school was fully accredited to send students to college (it was) and whether the new effort could compete with the established Central (it did)."Irving and Industrial principal Scott Foster soon saw a need for a high school independent of the K-12 environment, but his efforts to build one were scoffed at "by nearly everyone," Vukelich wrote.
...Vukelich, now a Denfeld social studies teacher, takes Denfeld graduates up in the tower during summer class reunions.
"There's just still a real connection to the roots," Vukelich
said."It doesn't matter how old they are, they say, 'It's the tower!We get to go to the tower!' And they turn into kids."
People grab Vukelich and say, "I've waited a lifetime to get up there."
"One guy turned to his
wife and said, 'This is why we came home,' " Vukelich
Budgeteer News - Duluth, Minnesota
The author , Joe Vukelich , an economics teacher at the school , said the book came about by accident.
In 1993 a group of seniors wanted to revive some forgotten traditions of the school.Vukelich
went downstairs and looked through past yearbooks for ideas.He
stayed down there for three hours.He
couldn't believe no one had told him about Denfeld's history.Sandi Dahl/Budgeteer News
But someone has to know this , Vukelich
thought at the time.Vukelich
started writing letters to the Denfeld family.His
correspondence with E. Joyce ( Denfeld
) DeMaro , a granddaughter from Yankton , S.D. , led to the family's tour of the school.
The tour began with the new $4 million Public Schools Stadium , where the football team interrupted its practice to shout a cheer for the family.Then it was the gymnasium , the hallway of pride and tradition that represents each decade of of the school , and then the auditorium.
The family was then led to the lecture hall , where Vukelich
read anecdotes from his
book to portray the unique devotion and loyalty of the school's alumni and current students.Vukelich
told them how one alumnus makes his
children stop talking in the car every time they drive by the school so he
can take off his
hat and sing the school song.And he
told them a story about two Denfeld football players who snuck into the tower before a big game.They tossed a football back and forth , and with each toss asked that players from decades past help them win the game.They won.Vukelich
then led the family to the tour's finale , the Denfeld tower.He
invited the family to partake in a tradition that began in 1994.On the last day of school , Denfeld seniors are taken to the tower and are allowed to sign their names anywhere inside.
Sign your name in the tower and become immortal , Vukelich
told the family.
Sandi Dahl is a news reporter for the Budgeteer News
.To reach her
, call 723-1207 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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