Roosevelt High School Class of 1963
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Reunions: To go or not to go? That is the question.

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Reunions: To go or not to go? That is the question.

An invitation arrives in the mail, and most of us arrive at an immediate decision. It’s either yes, I am going to the next Class of ’63 reunion, or, no, I’m not going. It’s those two responses that account for the bulk of our classmates.

And if you look at the numbers, for the majority it’s a no. We had 153 classmates (along with 63 guests) sign up for our 50-year reunion in 2013. That’s out of a group of 678 classmates eligible to walk across the stage June 14, 1963, to pick up their diplomas. We’ve lost more than 100 of our group in the years since, but that still leaves us more than 500 survivors. Which means less than a third chose to get together

The fence sitters—should I or shouldn’t ?—aren’t too many. It’s safe to assume that most of the ones who don’t decide right away won’t be there when the festivities begin anyway. Let’s say that indifference wins out against a little guilt for not showing up.

Has Facebook hurt? There’s a widespread belief that social media such as Facebook are killing high school reunions. Part of the attraction of getting together with classmates has always been the mystery of it all. But with Facebook and Twitter, there is no mystery; we already know because we look at the pictures and read the blogs.

Think about it, though. It’s not the same just reading about it as opposed to actually being with someone and seeing how energetic Jane looks with her new fitness program. Or how relaxed Joe is since he retired from a high-stress career.

So, for the classmates sending in their money to attend, the choice was still easy. Even if they’re well-connected online from one end of the country to the other, there’s nothing like being there. Together, especially with friends you don’t see that often.

Reunions are real, personal. You can hug people; it’s therapeutic. What’s more, you can have a real conversation. Some posters on social media write only good news. Others reveal rather personal things, but you can’t see their pain on Facebook and you can’t ask follow-up questions or personally share what they’re feeling. You can have that heart-to-heart talk at a reunion.

Never felt a connection. Yes, there are grads who didn’t seem to fit in. High school was not a good time for them, and they left it all behind. They have no contact with any classmate. Maybe they weren’t outgoing enough when they had the chance. And maybe they’re not on Facebook today. Or maybe there are past hurts to forget.

Well, the statute of limitations on harboring hard feelings expired long ago. Some psychologist suggested that the best way to get back at the bully who terrorized you back in the day is to walk up and greet him as a long-lost brother. You can leave him with his mouth agape; it costs you nothing. Then again, there’s a chance he doesn’t even remember being a jerk. You’ll have a clean slate with him if you’ll allow it.

If you made the effort at a reunion to reach out, classmates you didn’t even know in high school will greet you as a friend. Go with it; it’s a nice feeling to get back in step with the kids you walked the RHS halls with for three years, suffered through the same biology tests.

Not looking so good. Some of us are worried about our appearance. We weigh too much or lost too much hair or we’ve had one too many surgeries. Or we don’t seem to clean up that well. Doesn’t matter, really. It’s more about what’s on the inside—and we’re not talking about missing appendixes or kidneys.    
Another deterrent to attendance is that you don’t feel that you made a big enough success of your life. Believe it, no one at a reunion is going to ask how much money you made or what your net worth is. There are janitors who become millionaires through shrewd investing. You’re going to be appraised far more on how friendly and satisfied you seem to be with life now. Show up with a smile and enjoy yourself.

Next time you get a Class of ’63 reunion invitation, you might take a second and a third look before throwing it in the trash. One person you’re likely to see at our next get-together is Bob Swanson, who has shown up every chance he could.

“As I get older, the reunions become a special time for me, “ Bob observed. “My wife Jan enjoys seeing the other wives also. I have been to every reunion except when I was in the Navy from ’64-’68. I enjoy seeing classmates I have not seen in years, and remember—time and classmates are disappearing, so I try to attend them all.”

2013 Survey Information

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