But Keep the Old

The Northrop High School Class of 1983 just celebrated 40 years with a class reunion, and this was the first one I attended in all those 40 years. Starting with a school tour and football game on Friday night and ending with the reunion on Saturday, the weekend turned out to be more fun than I could have imagined. Now I hope to attend every reunion from now on.

I went this year because Kathy, my best friend since kindergarten, was on the planning committee and encouraged me to come. Before Kathy went to our 35th (her first), I never even knew we were having reunions. Even if I knew about them, I doubt that I would have gone. I would have felt awkward. I only played in the band for two years, and I sat on the bench for three basketball seasons. Kathy was the only friend I kept up with after graduation and technically was my friend from kindergarten, not high school. I was certain only popular kids went to reunions. That was not me.

After graduation, I went the following route: four years of undergraduate school, straight to graduate school, followed by an immediate move to Georgia, where I taught elementary physical education for 30 years. In 40 years, I have never missed a summer visit back to my hometown, so it would have been easy to coordinate the timing of a family visit with a reunion, as I did this year. Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t think anyone would remember me and I didn’t think I would remember many of them either. As a friend of my sister’s once said, “I could not have been wronger!” 

When Kathy and I walked into Northrop on Friday afternoon to gather for a tour of our newly remodeled high school, I immediately recognized two friends and remembered several others once they told me their names. When I recognized my fellow basketball players, it was as though only a few years had passed. The bond was still there.

After walking the halls of our alma mater, the group headed to the football stadium to watch the Northrop team play their archrivals. I sat with the basketball players and it felt good to be back with them as we reconnected. We talked about our injuries and careers and exchanged phone numbers, so we would not have to wait another 40 years to talk to each other again. 

Saturday night’s reunion went by too quickly. Although there were only 100 out of 600 of us there, the night was too short to talk with everyone. I did manage to talk with my kindergarten boyfriend about our playground wedding, with neighborhood pals about our standard “come home when the streetlights come on” rule, and with elementary friends who moved to the new school in fourth grade and left me behind. The reunion ended with lots of pictures, glad-you-came-hugs, and “let’s keep in touch” comments.

Now that I have had time to reflect, I’m so thankful I attended. 

Reuniting with my classmates made my heart feel good. It was fun to reminisce and catch up with old friends. I encourage you to go to your reunions and be like Kathy—bring someone else along. A dozen of our classmates were on the memorial wall, a stark reminder that life is uncertain. We do not know what tomorrow will bring, so tag up with your old friends. As the song goes, make new friends but keep the old. 

Have thoughts on reunions? Why have you gone or not gone? Will you go to your next one? Please comment below.