I recently returned home for my 32nd class reunion. Why 32? My high school graduating class held off on our 30th reunion to instead meet during our hometown's 125th celebration. What a great time it was to renew old friendships and to relive our past achievements.
I graduated from high school in 1980. You might remember some things about 1980. It was a presidential election year, so I was able to vote in my first ever election. The race pitted incumbent President Jimmy Carter against Gov. Ronald Reagan and independent candidate Congressman John Anderson. The economy was not good and the Iranian hostage crisis enabled Reagan to win the election in a landslide.
Also, in 1980, one of my fondest high school memories was my participation in our senior class play, The Curious Savage. That simple school activity has provided decades of fun recalling our exploits and, most importantly, our activities outside of the class play. The top grossing movie of that year was Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Other movies from 1980 include Airplane, Coal Miner's Daughter and Friday the 13th.
Some people believe the high school years are the best years of our lives. My high school experience was certainly positive, but as far as good friends and great times, I still defer to my undergraduate college years. But it is true that some of my high school friends remain my best friends today and high school had an important part in shaping my life.
Extracurricular activities are one of the best examples of this. Small class size made it possible to be very involved in many activities, such as chorus, band, speech, student council, newspaper, basketball, cross country, track and golf. Those activities enabled me to learn lessons and make friends outside the classroom. That involvement was also a great way to prepare for future networking by learning how to work together. It also taught me that you cannot be first place or a winner every time. In fact, sometimes the setbacks and defeats are more important for strengthening resolve and testing one's mettle.
Likewise, our high school teachers, some good and some not so good, certainly helped shape the people we are today. I fondly remember my chemistry teacher lobbing a piece of chalk at any student who dared to sleep during his class.
I don't live near my hometown anymore, so it is always a treat to visit old friends. Like many of you, my classmates live over the country, including California, Texas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas and Iowa, to name a few. But it is also great to reminisce about old times.
And unlike earlier reunions, conversations this time centered less on current occupations or comparative success and more on our families and the good ole' days of high school. Perhaps this is a sign of how our priorities have shifted as we've grown into ourselves. All in all, I would say the reunion was reflective of our lives - a great success.
Alan L. Neville is an associate professor of education at Northern State University. The views are his and do not represent Northern State University.