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Martinsville High School Alumni
Class of 1980 Message List
Essay on Class Reunions - 25
09/28/00     Barry & Linda Lawrence Dalton      houseofbeverages@mindspring.co
After attending the MHS 20-year class reunion of my husband, Barry Dalton,on the weekend of Sept. 22-23, 2000, I felt inspired to write the following brief essay. I thought other MHS graduates might relate to it.

High School Class Reunions


We need high school class reunions. They allow us to reconnect with our shared history. They rejuvenate us. They give us the opportunity to share our present yet at the same time relive our past.

When we gather with old classmates, in some sort of magical sense we turn eighteen all over again. We see ourselves once more as students, as teenagers who are ?all in this thing together.? As the decades pass after our graduation, we face so much in life?challenges, rewards, loss, heartaches, failures, and successes. Life deals us each different hands, and we play the best we can with the cards we are dealt. Some continue to live in the same geographical location where we grew up while others move far, far away. However, we all move on. Nevertheless, when we reunite as classmates, suddenly everything is equalized. For the few hours we are together, we are young again. Some look very much the same while others seem to have changed quite a bit. After the initial adjustment to the change in outward appearances, these people once again become the same old classmates we knew so well long ago. The person with a little less hair or a slightly different figure is reinvented in our minds, and in a short time he or she becomes the old teammate, lab partner, or fellow band member. The memories rush back, and any outward changes are erased. We dance to the songs of glory days, we sing along, and for a few moments we are back in time.

Of course, reunions are about catching up too. We used to do it each fall after a summer away from one another. We quickly get the hang of the old catch-up game with a ?summer vacation? that has lasted five years to a decade. We need to share our lives? experiences?sometimes in detail, sometimes in brief?but always with the old ?What did you do last summer?? type of conversation. For some time we have been separated, and we have the innate desire to reconnect.

Some people question the value of these meetings. Some recognize the fact that we have all moved on so far apart in our separate lives that we just don?t have enough in common to spend a day or two with each other. Those folks don?t stop to think how important a role these former classmates played in our formative years. Most of us spent eight or more hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year together for at least four years straight (some of us up to twelve years in a row). We were together through the ?wonder years??the years which formed who we would become and the paths we would take in the future.

Perhaps, one of the most important aspects of class reunions is the hometown itself. Returning there in the presence of those who grew up there with us satisfies our need of connection with our roots. This may explain why oftentimes class members who live far away make much more of an effort to attend reunions than members who live in the hometown or nearby. These hometown folks sometimes fail to realize the importance of the gathering because they tend to take the hometown concept for granted. What many of them miss in not attending is the unique feeling gained when old classmates gather in the hometown?we regain a youthful exuberance only experienced with both elements: the hometown and the old classmates.

When we leave the reunion, there is some sense of sadness. It?s somewhat like graduation night. We leave not knowing exactly what will happen to us in the future or when we will see each other again. We have to get on with the business of home, family, work, etc. However, we also leave the reunion with something special that we did not have before we got there?a reconnection with the past and a taste of the youthful innocence and optimism we have not had in many years. The reunion is sort of a booster shot we need every five or ten years, and it is definitely worth the effort needed to plan it and attend it. We need high school reunions so that we never lose sight of how we came to be who we are today.

Linda Lawrence Dalton
MHS Class of 1983
married to Barry Warren Dalton
MHS Class of 1980
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