This weekend I celebrated 50 years since my final year in High school. It was a major milestone, half a century.  I was privileged to go to a private school and back then our classes were small, so to gather 16 out of a class of 27, where 2 have already passed on, was a major feat.  Have you been to any of your school reunions?

I found we did not gravitate to discussing children and grandchildren but stuck with reminiscing.  I was amazed at how we all saw past events through our own filters, and in many cases, the memories were so different.

For all those years I have laboured under the impression I was one of the few who hated school, and that I was definitely the only one the Maths teacher referred to as a “dud”.  It was incredible to discover that about half the class were classified as “maths duds” and many more than I realised, hid their unhappiness under a cloak of peer pressure as I did.

This all got me wondering why the ritual of celebrating the decades since we left school is becoming such a tradition. (At the school Founders Day they were honouring 10,20,30,40,50 and 60 years!!) When I looked deeper, quite a few reasons came to mind:

  1. In our fast moving, ever changing world, we find the need for structure and predictability.   There is something reassuring and at the same time exhillarating about sharing memories from our youth.  Amazing what a few class and sports team photo’s triggers.   Remembering teachers mostly long gone, and classmates who came and went, staying only for a year or two was a challenge.
  2. Preserving a Culture. There was a discussion between our head prefects around initiating correspondence with the 2020 prefects in a mentoring context that I found pertinent.  The school building and the regulations around uniform have changed noticeably, but many traditions still stand fast.   It was wonderful to see some of the archaic traditions from our day have been dropped and we so enjoyed experiencing the new traditions around welcoming new learners, and the singing of a new School song.
  3. Fostering and affirming connection. Maybe we look different, certainly more grey hair and definitely more wrinkles, but when we scratched the surface everyone was still the same.   This was not my first reunion, but for some it was, and it was such fun discovering we still know each other so well after 5 or more years of sharing classrooms at a very impressionable age.
  4. Milestones are important for facilitating major transitions. Most of us are already retired and settled into a new chapter of our lives, but it was reaffirming to discuss the rocky patches on the road and hear how others are restructuring their lives.  There is something special about gathering with a large group all more or less the same age.

For me, the main take home point was that essentially we have not changed, though I felt most of us have gained in confidence over the years.  I also found it amazing that, when talking about a significant event, our memories were all tainted by our individual filters and in some cases, it was hard to believe we were talking about the same event.

Please share below how what you have noticed about your High School Reunions

Best wishes