Back in May of 2019, I reconnected with a classmate from junior high school. The two of us have bumped into each other a number of times over the decades, so our catch-up talk last May wasn’t as dramatic as it could have been, but then my classmate mentioned the fact that he had recently seen two of our classmates for the first time since our eighth grade graduation in 1979. This prompted a lively discussion about the fact that it had been 40 years since our junior high graduation, and progressed into toying with the idea of putting together a junior high school reunion.
I know some of you who are reading this are wondering why we were so fixated on the idea of a junior high reunion as opposed to a high school reunion, so I will give you some background on the school we attended.
I went to a school (Campbell Hall in Studio City, CA) which used to force the boys to find other schools to attend after 8th grade, creating an all-girls’ scholastic environment for those who chose to remain in the school for high school. Though I hadn’t given it any thought back then, separating the boys from the girls after junior high was pretty pivotal, given the fact that we were in that awkward pre-teen/early teen phase, not wholly sure of ourselves, and about to embark on that coming of age period which always hits a teenager like a ton of bricks.
After discussing the idea of a junior high school reunion further, my classmate and I decided to go for it and organize a reunion for the class. This entailed me spending six weeks digging for 69 of the 72 classmates (minus my classmate Josh, another classmate who had passed away, and me), a task which became rather engrossing. I was successful in finding 56 of the 69 people, and put feelers out to see who might be interested in attending such an event.
Once I contacted former classmates, it was time to plan the event. We ended up having a wonderful 40 year junior high school reunion in November of last year, with 19 classmates attending. In fact, it was such an enjoyable event that I hosted another, smaller event in December.
The feedback from the events was remarkable, uplifting, and gratifying. Here are some of the messages I received from former classmates after the events.
I didn’t want the morning to get too far away without jotting down the quickest note to make sure before the feeling faded into getting on the 405 and going to the office on a busy Sunday, that I am grateful beyond what I am able to write (I am not good with words – 54 and still struggling not to write like a teenager) and that for an unanticipated couple of hours last night I was pulled back into a space that I had forgotten. I spoke with people I didn’t know, had forgotten or had faded to such a space as to almost never existed, but there you all were and I was happy – so happy – to be in that encouraging, fun and open space and listen and share so much – with other people that I had realized over the weeks of thinking about this, that also wanted to be there – and that was a good thought: others were like me and wanted to participate. I completely regret having felt the pressure to leave 1979 and return to 2019 and a silly job that I enjoy today (I just can’t pull off those late nights anymore and function in the office), but not as much as I did this funny sweet dream I had last night with everyone and that I could not have seen without both of you finding the inspiration and making it happen.
I want to stumble for more words and I wish I could hold this feeling of happiness and some melancholy also (often why I never try to indulge my sentimental side) – that let me revisit this sweet memory of being a 12-14 year old.
Just a million thank yous for capturing some lighting in a bottle for me – my heart is grateful. – Steve Plutte
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to reconnect and catch up. I am still smiling as I think about the wonderful evening you put together. From the buttons 🙂 to hearing about what everyone has been up to, you truly provided an amazing experience not to mention a platform for us to continue the connections.
While I am trying to keep this short, I can’t end this note without sharing that my friends/family here at home have told me ENOUGH quit talking about what an impressive and fun group of people your classmates are! – Heidi Smith
I am so thankful to every single person who attended the reunion events, who believed in Josh’s and my vision of bringing everyone together after being apart for a staggering 40 years, reconnecting, and sharing some very special memories.