Sunday, October 19, 2014

Facebook - the SparkNotes for the Perfect High School Reunion

On the night that my students were either dancing the night away at the annual Homecoming dance 
or winning the Tournament of Bands Chapter 6 Group 1 Championship (with a score of 92.15!), I was hanging out with a bunch of my own high school class celebrating our 35th year reunion at Miller's Ale House in Willow Grove.  As I woke up this morning, I realized that I share something with those students -- we're all sleep-deprived this morning, and probably just recovering our full hearing potential.


The SparkNotes for the Perfect High School Reunion

My graduating class was nearly a thousand students.  A stark contrast to the high school where I teach today which graduates approximately 200 - 220 each year.  When I headed to college, I remember seeing someone walking around campus wearing an Abington jacket with the Class of 79 on the breast logo.  I truly didn't recall ever having seen her before, and decided that she must have borrowed her roommate's jacket.  (Turned out I was wrong -- how embarrassing is it to not recognize someone from your own high school?)  

The informal nature of the "meet in the back room by the fireplace" model meant no crazy name tags or sign ins, although I'd estimate that there were close to 200 people who showed up over the course of the evening.  A 20% attendance at a party 35 years in the making seems pretty impressive to me, although I attribute a lot of that to the success of social media and the groups established on facebook for the collaboration and planning of the invasion in Willow Grove last evening.  This observation comes in stark contrast to the recent research suggesting that social media is making high school reunions obsolete.   When NPR weighs in on such a sincere topic, people usually listen

I was a band geek in high school; obviously, based on the statistics above, I still am!  I don't remember ever attending at homecoming dance, although I did do some mean disco moves at both the junior and senior proms.  Thirty-five years later, we did tend to cluster into the clicks of people with whom we spent the most time in high school, but this reunion was much different -- because of the unlikely friendships that have been forged online over the last decade.  In a strange way, facebook provided the SparkNotes for many of those attending. Many of us see each other, or have stalked profiles to know where people worked, what they did, and whether they are covering the gray hair of being a grandparent.  That background also provided for something more meaningful than the cursory conversation than reunions of fifteen or twenty years ago.  

Oh, and besides my bestie band-geek friends, who did I spend the most time talking to last night?  

Teachers.  Amazing teachers from all over the country, some of whom read this blog.  Want to guess where the conversation started?  Right here.  

And it continued face to face in a very noisy Ale House in Willow Grove PA.

Is the high school reunion dead?  Absolutely not.  Here's hoping that the skeptics show up for the 40th -- you missed a great time last night!