Thanksgiving is reunion season. Stuyvesant and I'm guessing other high schools traditionally hold their reunions, at least the five and ten year ones over the holiday weekend. It makes sense since grads who've moved away might still be coming to town for family celebrations.
This year, I was invited to the Stuy07 ten year reunion. I considered crashing the Stuy97 20 year but it was at the same time and too far away.
I'm always really flattered and honored when I get a reunion invite. I've been to my share but I was never the hip popular teacher that gets invited to these things. On the other hand, I'm sincere, honest, and loyal so when I do connect with students it's meaningful and lasting. As one of my students remarked when I was nominated to be graduation speaker a few years ago and I doubted I would be elected "hey, you lead the most popular cult in the school" and I guess in some way the community is a cult, or as I'd rather say, a family. In any event, whenever I'm invited to a reunion I make my best effort to attend.
I find the role of faculty at reunions as somewhat amusing – we're something of a prop. The grads are there and should be there to reconnect with each other. The teachers are and should be secondary. From my point of view, there are three groups of students. The ones that are now part of my alumni family - now friends who I'm in touch with to varying degrees, the ones that never knew me and the ones that knew me a bit. For the second and third groups, as a faculty member, I'm there to remind them of the glory days as a representative of the institution.
As with all reunions I had plenty of "I was never in your class but …" conversations. I also a number of "I majored in fill-in-the-blank but just found my way back into tech so….. thanks." I love these conversations - it gets someone new into "the family." I also had one conversation that was really a nice ego boost. One of my guys introduced me to his wife. She immediately exclaimed "it's so great to finally meet you, he talks about you all the time!" That was kind of weird until she went on "…every time he talks about Stuy." That made more sense. It's like all those times when me and my buddy Ben would reminisce about our Junior High school days and we'd always get back to talking about Herb, one of our best and favorite teachers and a major influence on me while Devorah looked on confused. Eventually she met and got to know Herb and it all made sense. Another grad added "you think we all forget about you but you come up more than you know" so I take that as a shout out to all of the teachers out there who never get to hear back about how much they are remembered and appreciated.
With tools like email and Facebook it's easier to remain connected to former students but it's always nice to connect in person. For the StuyCS family, we have our periodic meetups but for the rest, I love being included in class reunions and hope to be invited to more in years to come.