Hundreds of Corry Area High School graduates filled the school cafeteria Saturday to celebrate a 135th annual alumni banquet.
In addition to scholarships and attendance awards, a special presentation was made to Corry’s first foreign exchange student who has attended nine out 10 five-year reunions of the class of 1959.
Fifty years ago, German exchange student Volker Gempt came to Corry to stay with David Hillstrom and his family.
“When Volker Gempt came to Corry and to my family in 1958 as our first foreign exchange student, not everyone was convinced it was a good idea,” Hillstrom, a member of the class of 1959, told the alumni audience Saturday. “Corry had never done this before. Volker was German and it was only 13 years since World War II, and at age 17, I was not sure I wanted to have a brand-new brother in my family.”
However, when Gempt arrived, all those unsure feelings soon faded, Hillstrom said.
“With his energy and friendliness, Volker soon won us over,” Hillstrom said. “He made over 100 speeches to local groups about the value of personal contacts with people from other nations and cultures, and about how such contacts can decrease tensions between nations.”
Hillstrom said Gempt illustrated those points by befriending and later marrying his wife, Nobuko, who in 1958 was an a Japanese exchange student in the Girard school district.
Gempt would eventually be named vice president of Porsche and lead a busy career, but he always made it a point to stay in contact with his friends in Corry. Call 814-665-8291 to see how you can read the rest of the story.