by Mary Wilson
Nearly five decades ago, Karen Sue Jochim walked the halls of Ruskin High School, proudly displaying her class ring on her hand. Gold in color, her ring symbolized her Eagle heritage, complete with the mascot nestled beneath the bright blue center stone. Her initials, KSJ, were engraved along the inside of the ring, and it was a piece of her high school career she truly loved.
Jochim, who graduated high school in 1971, later became Karen Schwartz, and now lives in Raymore, not far from her Ruskin roots. Sometime in the mid-1970s, Schwartz said she lost her beloved class ring.
“The ring has been lost longer than I ever had it,” said Schwartz. “I just remember not being able to find it. I always kept it in my jewelry box and, I’m thinking somewhere between 1972 to 1976, that it was gone.”
She still has a small pendant that she also received around the same time frame while in high school, but the ring has been gone for nearly fifty years. Until last week, Schwartz hadn’t thought about the ring in quite some time. However, on Thursday, April 9, she started receiving messages on Facebook from old friends who thought maybe someone had found her class ring.
Becky Barbour, who by miracle or coincidence happens to be a 1997 graduate of Ruskin rival Hickman Mills High School, works at the Oakhill Day School in Garland, Texas. A fellow teacher’s child was playing on the playground at the school and announced that he had found a ring.
“He said, ‘Oh, it has a jewel in it,’” said Barbour. “He brought it to me, and was muddy, so I could tell wherever he found it that it had been there in some mud for a little bit. I kind of wiped it off, and when I wiped around the jewel or the stone, I saw it said Ruskin High School.”
Being from Hickman Mills, Barbour immediately thought that she knew this ring was from her hometown. Though not being from Texas originally, she quickly searched to ensure there wasn’t a Ruskin High School somewhere near Garland. To see if she could track down the owner, she posted some photos along with a description of where the ring was found, and the initials engraved on the inside, to a Hickman Mills alum Facebook page.
“I wanted to try to see if I could find who it belongs to, and if not, then I’d give it back to the little boy who found it because he was so excited about it,” said Barbour. “What are the odds that I would know where that school was, first of all, and it was found at my school down here in Texas. I was just really taken aback to even find something that old on our playground, but I was excited because I wanted to be able to return this ring.”
Within four hours of her post, friends contacted Schwartz, saying that the ring had to be hers due to the initials KSJ on the inside. Sure enough, it was her ring.
“I loved that ring,” said Schwartz. “I always thought it was so pretty because it had the eagle underneath the stone and I’m curious to see if that is still intact. It’s just the most bizarre thing. I don’t know how in the world it ended up in Texas.”
Schwartz said that her brother seemed to think maybe the ring was lost on a family trip to Wichita Falls. However, she debunked that theory, remembering that they took that trip to see cousins while she was still in high school, before she even had the ring in the first place.
“I would have only been like 16 at that time, and I wouldn’t have had it then,” said Schwartz. “The other times I’ve been to Texas have been within the last few years, well after the ring disappeared.
“It’s just the darnedest thing,” she added. “I’m excited to get the ring back. Who would have thought I’d see it 50 years later? I wish it could tell me a story, because, holy cow, to end up in Texas from Kansas City.”