I was already class president of my senior class in high school before someone reminded me that I would be in charge of planning our reunions down the road, and I’ve been anxious about the pressure ever since. Classmates started asking about plans after only nine years, so the other officers and I made a private group for the class and started the task of hunting everyone down on Facebook last spring. As the time drew closer, we put up polls for everything and let the class choose – the date it would be, the venue it would be at, how much it would cost – to get as many people involved as possible and limit the amount on decisions we had to make on everyone’s behalf.
The amount of planning that went into it in terms of finding a venue, budgeting ticket prices, and coordinating it all was honestly more than a wedding. When my friends asked how it was going, I would make the comparison of planning my own wedding – except this time there were 200 brides… and none of them were me. I scanned the entire yearbook to get everyone’s senior picture on my computer for name tags and candid shots, then scoured the depths of Facebook for high school photos people hadn’t deleted yet. I designed a few basic signs myself and had them printed on Zazzle, and ordered a ton of party supplies off Amazon. We handled the tickets through Eventbrite so we wouldn’t have to worry about selling physical tickets, and the other officers encouraged everyone to buy their tickets early to help cover the deposit. One of the coolest parts for me was when a classmate mentioned in the group that they couldn’t afford a ticket, another classmate offered to buy it for them. This set off a chain reaction and we ended up having several classmates “donate” an extra ticket or two to help someone who needed a night out! It was amazing to see that even all these years later, the bond of coming from the same place runs deep and people wanted to see each other again.
We also decided to host a free meet and greet in the morning for the families with young kids or who couldn’t come to the reunion that evening. The local park (that many of us even helped to build in elementary school!) offered us their picnic areas for free, so we had a couple hours of people and kids coming and going in the summer heat. A few of us went out to lunch and after a quick shower and change, Eric and I headed to downtown to the adult bowling bar the class selected for the reunion.
With some gracious classmates that showed up early to help, we set up a huge banner, a name tag station, photo booth, 2-0-0-7 balloons, and scattered hundreds of old black and white photos on the tables. We also set up a small memorial for the classmates we had lost, both before and after graduation, because of the impact they continue to have on our class. The locals showed up and classmates who had long moved away started appearing out of no where. Dinner was served, the drinks started flowing, we took a quick class picture, and turned the music up.
I never would have bet I’d have as much fun as I did at the reunion. Even with social media and catching up here and there with classmates, having such a big group of us in one room again was such a weird and fun place to be. Our private event was over at 10:00, so we scooped up the decorations and carried the boxes out to the car before heading back inside to continue the party. I think we ended up leaving sometime around 1 in the morning, but there were some classmates who stayed out all night catching up. Some were spending a rare (or the first!) night out without the kids, some were active military there on leave, some were having one last night on the town before a baby is born, and some were going back to medical residency on Monday. If one were to look at the types of high-schoolers that showed up 10 years later, I saw everyone from the athletes and scholars to the quiet nerds and the artsy kids and the utterly uninvolved students – all talking to and hanging out with each other. Everyone’s lives looked so different then and still look so different now, but we all remember where we came from and can come together and celebrate it. That’s really cool.
I think I may have promised some people we were doing a 15-year reunion on Saturday… so I guess I better get ready to do this all again in a few years! Next time will be even better though, because I see now how some things never change.