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Sunday, January 22, 2012

High school and college reunions

My 40th high school reunion has been scheduled for May, but I won't be able to attend. Eric's commencement ceremony is the next day in DC. There's no question of which event is the more important, but I had been looking forward to the reunion.

If I recall correctly, the Robert E. Lee High School Class of 1972 had 705 students. I didn't know everyone, and I don't believe that anyone did (or could have) in only three years. The student body changed substantially in September 1970 when the school was integrated and a new high school opened in the city.

I chose an out-of-state university and matriculated in the summer term just one week after high school graduation. No one else from my high school class made the same choice of university. So, not having resided in Alabama since June 1972, I rapidly fell out of touch with my high school classmates. I went to the 10th high school reunion but didn't see many of my close friends there. Feeling increasingly distanced, I let the 20th and 30th reunions pass.

Along came the Internet. Google facilitated discovery of email addresses; Classmates.com was an early social network that was school-oriented; and eventually Facebook got popular. Now I'm in touch with a number of classmates whom I would enjoy seeing in May if schedules weren't what they are.

Interestingly I have not had the same reconnection with the Georgia Tech Class of 1976. I don't have a single Tech classmate as a friend on Facebook. This is not really a surprise. Looking back, I came to understand that the undergrad experience at Tech in the 1970s was brutal. It probably still is. I suspect the attitude of most Tech graduates is pride in having made it through and overall appreciation for the institution but no desire to reimmerse themselves in the undergrad experience. Most Tech alumni are content to write Roll Call checks and enjoy the occasional Tech athletic triumph. Also, I hung around Tech for years after getting my undergrad degree, finally as an Adjunct; my goodbye was not so abrupt as from high school.

Gail and I went back to Atlanta for our 25th wedding anniversary, and we walked around the Tech campus for a while. Perhaps I'll consider attending the 40th reunion there. Cancer made me aware that I've reached the age when every 10 years means a substantially smaller group of classmates still living. Opportunities to reconnect must not be deferred indefinitely.