My High School Reunion Experiences
50th Reunion Picture of Burlington High School Class of 1962
My High School Life
Although many people are getting reconnected on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, much more are still hesitant to attend their 30 or 50-year high school reunion. This article will examine high school reunions through my personal experiences.
From 1958 until 1962 I attended a small high school in a rural area of Wisconsin. Looking back on those years, high school was not the most enjoyable time of my life. Even though I was on the varsity football team, an honor student, and active in drama and speech clubs, kids regarded me as a poorly dressed, socially inept nerd. Throughout high school, I never had a girlfriend or attended school dances. Living on a farm, I had to help with the milking both early in the morning and early in the evening every day. There was no time or transportation to go into town and socialize with my classmates. My only motivation in high school was to be the number one student in class and get into college.
Reasons for Not Attending a High School Reunion
In the winter of 1992, mom informed me that she had received a letter from some of my high school classmates. They had contacted my mother because they didn't have my current address at that time. According to Karen, the graduating class of 1962 was holding a 30-year reunion back in Burlington in August. I was invited to the reunion.
When hearing the news about the reunion, my first reaction was not to attend. I did not want to attend the reunion probably for the same reasons most people don't attend theirs. Yes, I was living out of state 800 miles away at the time. That, however, was not one of the main reasons why my gut reaction was initially not to attend. The reasons for not attending and why others are probably hesitant to go to their reunions are as follow:
1. Fear of Losing Face by Not Living Up to High School Expectations:
I graduated from high school as valedictorian of my senior class. Most classmates expected me to become a doctor because I had told them all that was my profession of choice. In my high school yearbook, I can still see the entry of one student writing that I would have many degrees after my name in the future. No, I didn't become a doctor, and I have only earned a bachelors degree in my life. How could I face my classmates after having failed at what I set out to do as a high school senior?
2. Not Being Socially Active in School:
Throughout high school, I was more or less a social doughnut. I had a handful of friends and never had a girlfriend. Junior and senior class proms, as well as homecoming dances, never meant anything to me because I was a shy, socially inept person who had no self-confidence.
3. Kids Didn't Like Me in School:
I remember a lot of kids not liking me due to my personal appearance and body odor. Because I helped my parents with farm chores every morning, my clothes and body often smelt like cows. I still can recall one freshman kid calling me "smudge pot." A lot of kids also didn't like me because I was too straight and never misbehaved. Throughout high school, I was one of only a few students who never had a detention.
4. High School Classmates Have No Place in My Life Today:
Before I attended my high school reunion, I hadn't seen my former classmates in 30 years. They weren't part of my life at that time, and how could they possibly be part of my life in the future.
Not Attending High School Reunions
Why haven't you attended your high school reunions?
High School Reunion Experiences
In August of 1992, I attended my 30-year high school reunion. On the eve of the reunion, I recall running into one of my classmates on the reunion committee in a bar in my hometown. Still recognizing me, she was very thankful that I could find the time to attend. When I told her I was at first hesitant to come to the reunion, she replied that other classmates had felt the same as me.
On Saturday evening I went to the reunion which was held at a supper club outside of Burlington. To my dismay, I couldn't recognize any of my old classmates, and I was calling them by the wrong names. In the end, it didn't matter, because everyone was given name tags to wear. To my disappointment, only 20 out of 125 classmates showed up at the reunion. During the two to three-hour dinner and dance, I learned a lot about some of my old classmates which made the reunion a quite positive experience. I came away from the reunion that evening with the following positive observations:
1. It Is Not Important to Live Up to High School Expectations:
After talking to many of my classmates, it didn't matter to them whether or not I was a doctor. It didn't matter to them that my first marriage failed. They were just as interested and intrigued to hear about my work with the federal government in Washington, D.C. This made me feel very good about myself. I also learned that a lot of other people didn't accomplish what they set out to do after graduation and that others had gone through divorces.
2. Classmates Accepted Me Socially:
I had a helluva great time at the reunion party. Everyone intermingled with me in lively, stimulating conversation, and some of the unattached classmates even asked me to dance.
3. Many Classmates Can Still Have a Place in My Life:
It surprised me that many classmates had experienced the same career disappointments, family problems, employment, and travel that I had. Some of us had the same interest in sports, especially the guys who were my football teammates. I exchanged addresses and telephone numbers with some classmates, and they have been in contact with me up until today.
4. 50th High School Reunion
My 50th high school reunion was held in September of 2012. I was unable to attend due to a work commitment in Thailand where I was teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL.) My greetings were sent to my classmates, and they responded by sending me some pretty cool pictures and summaries of their life experiences after high school. Now I will be able to stay in contact with former old classmates.
Attending a 30 or 50-year high school reunion can be a positive, enjoyable experience. It is a lot easier to arrange today with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
High School Reunion Experiences
Ellen Hosts Her 30-Year High School Reunion
© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn