Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On high school reunions

     This morning I reflect on these gatherings and the kind of people that attend them.

     I'll throw it right out there that I am a fan of high school reunions.  I'm not sure that I made our 10th reunion, but I got the information about the following one and decided to join the committee and have been involved in the planning of them ever since. Next weekend I'll be part of the 30th reunion
from high school for the 1983 Class of Canandaigua Academy and I'm certain that I'll have a great time.   We had a class of 300, however, and at this point with the reunion just 10 days away it looks like we only attract about 75 classmates and then have 40-50 guests that come in with them.  I'm was disappointed in the number, until I saw the picture from our 20th reunion, and then began to realize some standard truths. 

     No one that ever helped to plan a class reunion, complains about the price.  it's a pretty bold statement, but I think it bears out.  The ticket price has to include all the incidentals as there is no 
other income stream for the event, so typically the ticket price ($30-$75) includes mailings, DJ or band, rental of the facility and/or a tent, the meal, attending gift, and prizes and awards.  The committee members know these costs all too well, but the other classmates don't, so I've heard the ticket price complaint as the reason that people aren't attending quite often.  For my latest reunion the price to gather with the classmates, have a good meal, and have hours of dancing afterwards is $35 per person.  It's tough to get all of the above for less than that, and our committee eliminated suggestion after suggestion to keep the cost of attending low, but believe it or not, I've heard complaints.  I'll guarantee that these complainers have paid more for a meal at a restaurant, a ticket to a concert or even for a pair of shoes, but they will gripe about this cost.  Why?  I suspect because they don't see value in the gathering, so no matter how hard you work to try and please this type of person, it's a losing proposition.  We had offers from classmates to cover the costs of other classmates who
couldn't afford to attend, and even after advertising this, we got no takers,  I had an epiphany the other evening as I was looking over the names and locations of those attending, and realized that many of the people that are coming are buying airfares, hotel rooms, meals at restaurants, and using their vacation time to come back and connect with the others, and they are excited to do so.  The epiphany I had was, would I rather spend an evening with a crowd of that kind of person, or with a crowd of people that would complain about spending $35 to visit with classmates that they haven't seen in a decade?  It's an easy choice.

     The second excuse that I hear the most is even sadder, and it goes something like this... " I didn't
enjoy my time in high school, so why would I pay money to go back to relive it again"   I'll utter a bold statement again, anyone that did go to a reunion could ever feel that way.  I was poor, not terribly popular, and not dressed well ( My Red Jeans story), yet I managed to enjoy my time in high
school just the same.  All the reunions I've attended didn't resemble high school in the least.  There were no tables made up of jocks or the popular kids, there was no bullying or exclusion of individuals, there was simply a bunch of adults reminiscing about the past, but more commonly talking about what had happened since high school.  You'd expect that, of course, since high school took up 4 of our years, and we've lived 30 more since then.  I've been to the reunions and the people that chose to go to them aren't stuck in the past, but the people that don't probably are since they somehow expect to see the same kind of high school behaviors played out.  I've had experience with the actual reunions, and with the people that don't choose to go, and the only place I think that these behaviors occur are in the heads of those who don't go. 

     I'll close with my epiphany about reunions that I had this week while looking at the photo from my 20th.  Almost every person in attendance 10 years ago is coming back to this one.  I say almost
because sadly, there are 2 classmates in the picture that have died since the last reunion.  I had a chance to reconnect with both of them, and work closely on the committee with one of them.  I hadn't known either in high school but got to hear their stories at our 20th, you can read one of theirs here ( My friend Eileen). They both fought courageous battles against cancer but neither let that define them, they volunteered, they worked, one married and one didn't and they stayed in our home town and made it a better place to live.  So I'll finish this short blog exactly how I started it, I'm a fan of high school reunions, because I get to reconnect with people like this at them. 


Connie (Hirschmugl) Tommerdahl said...

I write this as you prepare for the class reunion tonight! Thank you for the efforts put into the reunion. You make some really good points here, and I agree with you that the people who desire to show up will!
Unfortunately, timing did not work out in my life to make it, but it would have fun to be there! I hope it is super successful!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Connie, and I think it's safe to say that those who came truly enjoyed themselves. See you next time. (Bill)