Reunions: What can be a stressful time can end up being wonderful

The inaugural graduating class of Saugus High School enjoyed a tour of their former school in June. SIGNAL FILE PHOTO

Like anything that’s related to high school, class reunions can be a stressful time for everybody involved.

Organizers are pressured to find the hundreds of alumni scattered across the country, graduates become tense as they think about reuniting with their classmates, and schools are busy planning activities that will interest their students of yesterday.

The 1968 graduating class of William S. Hart High School is preparing to celebrate its 50-year class reunion. The inaugural graduating class of Saugus High School reunited in June, and one member still gets emotional when she recalls the moments of that special weekend.

After working on the reunion for a year and a half, the anticipation had been building, said Tina Landrum, a member of the class of 1978 who helped organize the event.

Landrum and the reunion’s organizing committee were tasked with planning the multiple meetups that occurred over the weekend, convincing fellow Centurions to attend the reunion after the death of one of their classmates and — in Danielle Cook Bryant’s case — flying 3,000 miles across the country.

In the end, “I felt like everything we had been working on had fallen in place,” Landrum said. “I get emotional right now just thinking about it. We were so busy getting ready for it that I hadn’t counted on the emotion — the tears, the screaming, the running and hugging each other.”

Cook Bryant said she had so much fun that she bought a plane ticket immediately after returning to Virginia that allowed her to attend Saugus High’s homecoming on Friday.

“It’s a testament to how much fun everybody had and how special these people are to me, and what the reunion meant to me,” she said.

“Even if you don’t feel like you had anything in common with anybody in high school,” Landrum said, “We shared a time together that was really important in creating who we are now. Whether or not we traveled in the same cliques, there were many things we had in common.”

Everybody was at the dances together, whether that was up against the wall or out on the floor going crazy, she said. “We tried our best to be as hip as possible,” and shared the teachers who were infuriating along with the ones who were inspiring.

“That makes us part of a tribe. No matter where we were or ended up,” Landrum said. “The great thing is all these years later, we’d grown into somebody else and I was excited to meet those people.”

Landrum said the entire weekend was awesome, “but the tour is what tugged at the heart strings. I recommend that for anybody planning a reunion.”

The school had blossomed into a paradise, Landrum said, “and we went into a time machine to be able to see it.”

Meeting the students at the reunion tour had a big impact on the group, participants of the tour said. There’s talk among the committee members about wanting to get involved with the Parent Teachers Association of Saugus High.

“Some have mentioned raising funds for books, sports or other equipment that would help,” Landrum said. “We want to keep morale going, we want to keep engaging with each other. The students were wonderful so hopefully it rolls into other things.”

People should attend their reunions because of the nostalgia and to rekindle the physical connection with friends, Cook Bryant said. “It brings all of your memories to life. It’s like going to see a feel-good movie and bringing all of those emotions to reality.”

Cook Bryant set up the extracurriculars, including the tour, coffee and Friday night mixer, from across the country, Landrum said, which goes to show that you don’t have to be there physically to be part of organizing a reunion

“We rekindled or, in some cases, discovered friendship with each other for the first time,” she added. “We became such good friends and our friendship had deepened.”

 

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