I attended my 35th High School reunion in Beardstown, Illinois over Memorial Day weekend. We have a reunion every 5 years, and I have made it to several of them. Beardstown is famous for its alumni weekend and every year, for the past 136 years, the high school classes reunite. So this year it was the classes from 1996, 1991, 1986 (my sister’s class), 1981, 1976, 1971, 1966, 1961, 1956 (my uncle’s class), 1951 (my dad’s class), 1946, 1941, 1936, and 1931 all having reunions and in addition to their individual parties, they all gathered for a banquet at the Beardstown High School to congratulate the latest graduates, and pass on words of wisdom to these new alumni.

Alumni Banquet

Maybe it is a little korny, but there is something unique and reassuring about being able to come back home, to a place where everyone knows your name. (Just in case , our classes had name badges–some people do look different!) This is a town of 5,800 and our graduating class had about 120. Where else can you walk from bar to bar to the Elks club (bar), to bar, etc., and see people from different eras, all from the same high school, within a few blocks of each other?

Class of 1976

As you grow older, the things that were separating people are less important, and the common that issues emerge, which shows how we are more alike. We all have been through a lot. We don’t all hang out together, and we may never see each other again, but for one night, the thing we once did have in common is shared. We grew up, or at least graduated from a little town on the Illinois River, that is trying to keep a tradition alive.

Do you go to your reunion? If not, why not?