There was a small knot of about 40 people gathered in the field house at York Community High School when I arrived for the tour. I felt almost as nervous as I had my freshman year when I entered these halls for the very first time. Scanning the faces of the group, I did not immediately recognize a soul. After all, it has been 40 years since we said goodbye to high school and ventured out into our adult lives. The vicissitudes of life were bound to change us.
Finally, I saw my good friend and our senior class president Sal, who over the years has looked exactly the same as he did in high school. I was also meeting my close friend Lynn, who I found standing next to a small woman it took me a few moments to recognize: Jan. This was going to be a fun day after all.
I have attended all four of my high school reunions over the years and have always enjoyed myself. At the 10 and 20 year reunions, I felt like a much better version of my awkward teenage self. It was interesting to see who was married, where people were living, what jobs they held, how many kids they had. Having grown into our more mature and confident adult selves, we were free from the cliques and insecurities that characterized our teenage years.
This decade’s reunion was held at a local bar and bowling alley. A dedicated committee had festooned the place with green and white balloons and luminaria made from copies of yearbook pages. There were a few speeches, group photos, and “our” music played by a DJ who probably thought he should break out the Lawrence Welk tunes. Many of the York alums I spoke to agreed that there was only one flaw in the evening. The names on our name tags were not in big enough print for our failing eyesight.
At the party, I had the same sense of wonder at so many faces I did not immediately recognize. Being part of our graduating class’s Facebook group helped since I could peruse the “mature” look of many classmates on that page. Some of us have changed a lot both physically and emotionally. Others look identical to their teenage selves but have no doubt also grown and changed.
In the years since high school, I have lost contact with almost all the people I knew and liked there. It’s very gratifying to be able to go back every 10 years and catch up on the lives of old friends and even acquaintances. Many of us are now grandparents, and our hair is now gray, dyed, or missing altogether. But put us together in a room with a little disco music or something by Steve Miller Band, and our youthful spirit comes right back to us.
My York High School friends and I graduated in the country’s bicentennial year. Over the years, we have lost many things: parents, spouses, marriages, even children. Many of our classmates suffered an untimely death. Yet we have also gained a lot: wisdom, maturity, love, our own cherished families. It’s nice to get together and celebrate all we were to each other in 1976 and all we are in the present.
Here’s to our 50th, York Class of 1976!
Hail to York High !
Dear beloved name
We will ever sing in joyful praise
Striving in all we do to bring thee more fame.
Voicing our love for thee in loyal acclaim, Yea !
Dear old York High, we will fight for thee
Strong in battle, true in love
Both our heart and our hand
We do pledge as we stand
Dear Old York High, Hail to thee.