Monday, February 28, 2011

The LAST Class to Graduate from Fairborn High School!

Those born in 1952-1954 represented the height of the Baby Boom after World War II. School populations swelled during the early 60’s and many new schools were built. From my corner of the world, many of these schools are now being replaced, levies trying to be passed to build and maintain them. It is interesting to see how many people oppose a natural course of events. None of the buildings were built like the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, with expectations that they would last forever. Actually Fairborn buildings are better built than many neighboring communities.

I digress. As classes gather for reunions, there is some discussion as to who was last to graduate from Fairborn High School and who was first to graduate from Fairborn Baker High School, as if this was an earth-shattering matter! I dug out my diploma and indeed it does say Fairborn High School on it.

As I sift through old newspaper articles, I can see that the Fairborn Daily Herald saw the schools as Fairborn Baker and Fairborn Park Hills, probably as soon as there was news to report for both schools. When we were juniors, Park Hills opened with two classes, freshman and sophomores. There must have been a need to differentiate from that time forward.

Eventually, the Fairborn Daily Herald got it right (see picture). When our graduation was reported in the newspaper, it was the last class to graduate from Fairborn High School.  It was the end of an era.

Or…..maybe not. As the student population dwindled, it eventually became apparent that Fairborn did not need two high schools. I truly respect those who take on the responsibilities of any school system in a state of change. We have had two classmates serve on the Fairborn City Schools Board of Education. The classmates that have earned their livelihood as instructors or other employees in the Fairborn City Schools are too numerous to even attempt to mention.

In the fall of 1982 the schools were combined again, a process which had as many implications as the split in the first place. What would the fight song be, what would the colors be, and what would the mascot be called? The Park Hills graduates didn’t want to be lost in the history of Fairborn. The high school was moved to what I still call the “Park Hills building” and the junior highs were combined at Baker. The Central Elementary/Junior High building was closed. It remained closed and a financial albatross to the Fairborn City Schools for many years. In approximately 1998 (?) it was opened as senior citizen housing. It is an excellent use for that building and many of the architectural features have been preserved.

Today we have Fairborn Primary (Five Points Elementary and Junior High) which houses grades K-3, Fairborn Intermediate (Palmer-South) houses grades 4-5, East Elementary houses grade 6 and is technically part of the Baker Middle School campus, with grades 7 and 8 in the Baker Middle School building. What we considered Park Hills High School is now Fairborn High School.

The combined school that became Fairborn High School is part of a new era. The staff was combined and many of the teachers that taught us were part of that movement. Gradually they retired, and times change. As many of us return to Fairborn, we think it should be as we remember it, but that is no truer of Fairborn Ohio as it is of Anytown USA, where you make your home.

However, nothing will ever take away the distinction of the Class of 1971 being the last class of the original Fairborn High School. Go Flyers!

On deck: The Delights and Downsides to Social Networking

In the Hole: A Friend Request

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Top 10 List of Excuses for Avoiding the Reunion, Class of 1971 Edition:

I am not successful. As humans, we tend to define this in money. Hopefully, most of us have moved past that. As we watch our neighbors or extended family struggle in life, or maybe we ourselves have dealt with deep pain and hard stuff, the money thing is just not important. And when we look at that growing memory board, we are just happy to BE here. Please don't wait; life is too short to miss a chance to connect. Check your ego, and show up anyway.

You don’t remember anyone. Well you do and you don’t. If you think of your friends as 18 year olds, it might be hard to go back, especially if you have not been to another reunion along the way. But the best part is learning the NEW things about your friends. And you WILL find someone with something in common. It may very well surprise you! And we promise nametags with LARGE PRINT!!

I haven’t achieved my goals. You have a pulse? That’s good enough for most of us. We are not impressed anymore, believe me.

I am not in good health. This is a reality. This is why we now make sure we have handicap accessible venues. We are all in various stages of decline, or as I like to say we ALL have a terminal illness. This part is tough, but we still want to see you!

I am in OK health for 58, but I just don’t look the same.  I’m fat, bald, have an embarrassing skin condition, {fill in the blank}. News flash! None of us do……and it is my personal belief that the older we get the more we look inside the person anyway, not at the outside. I am a woman and I am vain, and I want to present myself in the best light I can; but I can’t and won’t pretend that I am 18 again. And I don’t want to—I am a better person now!

I don’t have a “date”. Please don’t get me started on that one! I have been married 33 years and my husband refuses to come to reunions. Be MY date!

I hated everyone from high school. Everyone? Not buyin’ it! Not one single person you can remember with fondness? Check your e-mail contact list, I bet there is at least one faithful high school pal there. Email them and see if they are going. I’ll bet they would love to see you there.

Everyone from high school hated me. {Or, I haven't been in touch in 40 years, so if they didn't hate me then, they hate me now} And ignoring this problem will make it go away? Time to make amends. Show up at your reunion and I’ll bet that no one remembers. Especially if they are men, they don’t remember a thing! I am here to tell you that you will be amazed at how many people will be delighted to see you!

I'm afraid to see the one who broke my heart/whose heart I broke. (Or, I'm afraid I won't see them). They probably don't remember you anyway. See above answer if referring to a male.

I don't want my spouse to know what a loser I was in high school. They love you anyway. And how are we defining “loser?”

I can't go because someone very close to me is having a baby, I live more than 3,000 miles away, or just declared bankruptcy. OK, in those very special cases, you get a free get-out-of-reunion card.

See you at the Reunion! You have been doing something during these past 40 years. Come and tell everyone about it!

On Deck: The LAST class to graduate from Fairborn High School!

In the Hole: The Delights and Downsides to Social Networking

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting the Ball Rolling

Over the last 30 years, we have had many people working on the reunions. Some have been in one time and out another because of other concerns in their lives. It is always good to have a new person or two on each committee. We lost one faithful member in 2002. We are grateful to those who have served in the past but are unable to at this time.

There is a core group. One of them will set up an organizational meeting. Years ago phone calls were made, but today we do most correspondence with email. This time we emailed the entire class with our start-up meeting. We went to the appointed place at the appointed hour and hoped someone else would show up!

The first meeting is held about 18 months out from the reunion itself. The first order of business is “What do we want?” and “Where do we want it?” Research is done for the venues which are available and we discuss a “date range.” After we come back and make that decision, we can begin to hammer out a preliminary budget, to give us a vague idea of what this is going to cost. At this time, we have no idea how many people will come and it’s a crap shoot to guess. We did use the attendance figures of the previous class’ reunion to give us an idea.

Some of the members of your Reunion
Committee. There are several people
absent from this photo.
Once contracts are signed and deposits paid to venues, caterers and musicians, we take a break for the summer. During the fall the postcard is designed and proofed by committee members, and sent for production. We had two meetings in the fall, and took a break again. By January it’s time to hit the deck running.

So in January the question becomes: “Exactly what to we want to do and how to we get from Point A to Point B?” Jobs are delegated by talent and interest. We have a great committee in that we have people with many different abilities! We make the final decisions on what will be on the web site regarding registration, and the postcards are ready to be mailed.

The postcards are mailed and people begin connecting to the site. Registrations begin to come in. Donations also come in and are very gratefully appreciated.

From this point we meet monthly to update each other and begin the actual work of the Reunion. We meet on the third Tuesday of the month at the Fairborn Library. We communicate through email, Facebook and even texting! We welcome anyone who would like to help or has a particular talent.

Your Reunion Committee develops a camaraderie that is hard to describe. It goes beyond the task at hand. It’s like extended family. We don’t always agree, but we are there for each other. And for those who have been at this for a long time, we have cried and rejoiced at life’s twists and turns.  I have other friends, but this group is very close to me.

This is one of those times when the old statement “many hands make light work” is in effect. We are so grateful for each other and the support we get from out-of-area classmates.

On Deck: Reasons to Avoid your 40th (or any, just modify the text a bit) High School Class Reunion.

In the Hole: The LAST class to graduate from Fairborn High School!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

You've Got a Friend

As I begin this blog, planning to center on relationships as we work together to plan our 40th high school class reunion, I fussed over a proper name for it. Several things came to mind—I wanted to convey the idea of long-term friendship, and the concept of hospitality as we welcome friends back into our lives after a period of absence. Because music has always been a major part of my life, I thought about the title “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Since we began planning this class reunion, and celebrating the particular year of 1971, I found it interesting that in the first week of August, James Taylor’s signature song was the top song on the “charts.” As with all meaningful songs, this one does remind me of one particular person, who shall remain nameless, at least for now.  Should he stumble upon this blog, he will recognize himself, as our relationship was an undercurrent in each other’s lives for over six years.

So what does friendship mean to us? As I write this, I have 848 “friends” on Facebook. Are they all friends in the perspective of this blog? No, but they have all had a place in a life that is approaching its 58th marker. Within this context, I address friendships that were forged at a time when we were “young and stupid,” as my spouse and I like to say. Those are people who still remember me as an 18-year-old without gray hair, less weight and fewer wrinkles!

There is something special about them. In so many ways, there is no pretense. Certainly we all have changed, some for better and some for worse. Some I have much more in common with now than I did in 1971. Acceptances and allowances must be made. Many of us have or are in the process of climbing big mountains. Some of us have achieved great things. Most of us have just lived a life that we hope is a good one.

I think reunions are interesting. At the 10th we all thought we were still hot. We danced the night away. At the 20th, we had our highest attendance and participation. We were 38, eager to show off our spouses and pictures of children, talk about our jobs and other things we were doing. I was ill that night; I remember talking to many people, but the conversations were shallow. At the 25th our attendance was down, but what I remember was deep conversations with some of my good friends and some I didn’t know well in high school. By this time, I had definitely developed some different interests. The 30th was held both nights at the same place and that worked well for a smaller group. By this time, many were coming solo. Either their marriages had dissolved, or like many of us married a long time, if the spouse wasn’t a part of our high school life, it was easier just to leave them home. The 35th saw an interesting evening on Friday but Saturday the attendance was down, showing that our class was not interested in the dinner/dance format.

So we listen. This year it will be two “casual” nights, although Friday is more casual than Saturday by virtue of the location. However, there will be no sit down meal. And in all these years, we don’t want to give up our Sunday picnic. That is where some of the deep conversation happens. We are tired but relaxed and we really enjoy each other.

(Because of my personal passion for baseball, I use the terms below to describe the next two entries I have planned. As a woman, I do reserve the right to change my mind!)

On Deck: How To Get the Ball Rolling.

In The Hole: Reasons to Avoid your 40th (or any, just modify the text a bit) High School Class Reunion.