What I Learned From My High School Reunion by Gregory Hilton

This will surprise some of you but I actually did graduate from high school. My class reunion is this weekend but unfortunately I am stuck in a basement in Georgetown. I sure wish I was back with the old gang at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, NY. I received several wonderful letters from former classmates and so many of the people I really want to see are participating in the three days of activities. I have not seen 95% of them since graduation.
I feel awful but Facebook has somewhat lessened the blow. While I am not there in person, I have been communicating with many of them via FB, e-mail and the phone. The result is that wonderful memories have come flooding back. We reminisced about school dances, riding the bus, my cross country team, endless baseball games, summers at the Windmill Club, the boys I sat with in the cafeteria, the seemingly impossible math assignments, my beautiful and popular sisters, bullies, learning to drive, and graduating from high school before the real life problems of college, employment and marriage hit us.
The stories they told me about the kindness of my late parents were especially touching. It has been enjoyable to catch up with people regarding the blur of activities in their lives over the past decades. High school is just one chapter in life, although it remains a unique one. My classmates have a special bond because of the closeness we achieved by going through so many new experiences in suburbia. We all had to struggle toward maturity and make decisions that prevented us from going back to the comfortable places of youth.
French was not one of my favorite subjects but I do remember the expression, plus ca change plus c’est le meme chose – the more things change the more they stay the same. That describes so many of my classmates. The nice kids continue to have pleasant personalities as adults. The good kids are still good. As for the desperadoes such as myself? Well, they seem all right too.
Our class includes a young Dwight Eisenhower (now you know why I am a Republican); a Hollywood actor (Peter Gallagher of Titanic); a rock star (Preston Reed who performs with Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt); the winner of the Mega-Millions Lottery (Donna French); a rocket scientist (Dr. Wendy Orr); a marathon champion (Meg Kerr); my personal heroes Bob Kinn (who has been in Afghanistan since 2004 helping the less fortunate); Peter Siegel (who dated the two most spectacular women in the class); and the only Republican in his Washington, D.C. precinct (me).
Do I have any wisdom for my students? The experiences of my classmates demonstrate that life is not always smooth sailing, but adversity does build strength. In every ending there is a new beginning.
I recently spoke with a woman who was focused on cheerleading activities in high school. She was devastated her senior year after failing to qualify for the squad, and was then excluded from many of the social activities of the cheerleaders. Her life took a new direction and she instead joined some of the class nerds on the debating team. That was a few years ago. She is now United States Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and says she never would be on Capitol Hill if she had been a varsity cheerleader.

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