By Staff Writer Jonathan Ko
Alumni from the Class of 1966 reunited in the Bell Tower Quad on October 8. Dozens of former students from one of the first graduating classes came together from cities across the US to reminisce about their high school days and update each other on their jobs and lives.
The alumni, now in their late sixties, remarked on how little the school had physically changed as well as how the culture has shifted since they attended high school. Many noted how the school had retained its open, airy feeling, while others remarked on how the bell tower used to be made of wood. A common discussion point was pointing out areas of the school and remembering what students used to do there. People flipped through yearbooks and past editions of the Smoke Signal, recollecting their high school years and reconnecting with their friends.
The reunion was organized by Class of 1966 Alumna Mary Pzyer-Hammond, who began work on the event two years ago. Along with a committee of eight members, Hammond spent hours reaching out to people and contacting them through social media and old addresses. Speaking about her motivation for conducting the event, Hammond said, “It’s great to hear what people have done with their lives and what people are doing now.”
At 11 a.m., alumni began arriving in the Bell Tower Quad. The event started off quietly, but soon people started guessing each other’s names and catching up with each other. Friendly conversations continued over lunch until the reunion ended at 1 p.m.
A common conversation topic was the culture change at MSJ. Hammond said, “When we went to school, it was 97 percent white … Now it’s about 90 percent Asian and that changes the whole dynamic.” The alumni were split on whether the changes were positive or negative, but they universally agreed that the culture had evolved. Class of 1970 Alumna Diane Gilkey-Ray said, “It’s changed big-time. Academic, pressurized — it’s that culture for pressure.” Alumni had differing opinions on what this meant for the school. “I loved the [present] culture. The students [are] wonderful,” said former Math Teacher Nancy Hendrick, also from the Class of 1966. Other alumni advised that students should try to enjoy high school while it lasts. Class of 1966 Alumnus Thomas Rondeau said, “We didn’t have all this burden and stress and we turned out okay … You’re only young for a short time. Enjoy it.”
As a whole, the event was heartwarming and many old friends reconnected. On the topic of future reunions, Hammond said, “We will have more reunions now that we’ve connected with so many people.”
Photos by Staff Writer Jonathan Ko