High school reunions are wild. Not only is it really bizarre for the students who see their peers all grown up, but it's also just as weird for the teachers. The people who saw you at your most confusing, vulnerable time, now seeing who you've become. Here are some stories from the teachers' perspective.
u/ReallySmartHamster asked: Teachers who regularly get invited to high school reunions, what are the most amazing transformations, common patterns, epic stories, saddest declines etc. you've seen through the years?
My grandpa invited his English teacher from high school to their 60th HS reunion. She was 97 at the time (101 now) and is sharp as a tack. She had a wonderful time seeing everyone and even remembered a good portion of her students, but did mention that it was disheartening to see students of hers who have died or are suffering from dementia.
Dress to impress.Giphy
Common patterns are that the 10 year reunion, they all show up with the intention to impress - fancy clothes are the norm, many women look as if they went to the salon to have their hair styled, spouses are primped in a similar fashion (and also brought to the reunion).
By the next reunion, usually the class has lost at least one person unexpectedly so there is always the tribute table and the mood is more about reminiscing about old times than trying to impress each other. Dress is usually more casual and less presence of spouses (unless they are graduates of the same high school).
He has a good memory.
I know that this is a reach-out to teachers but I want to do a shout-out to a teacher.
I attended only my 20th year reunion in 1999, and only because I had to return home to my family because my step-mother was dying. I had left town the day after graduation and never looked back.
A math teacher who taught calculus and coached football was so amazing in our school and our community that the whole town had created a day devoted to him and named it "Garvin Day." He was retiring that year.
He was a man of quiet intensity. I remember his catching me and some friends smoking in the boiler room and he looked at each of us intently. "I don't think that's very smart to smoke in here. I'd have thought y'all were smarter than this."
It was a Catholic college prep school with very strict rules that had any other teacher caught us, we would have been expelled.
Coach Garvin had such patience in his ways, and he worked every angle to get us to understand math. He listened and when he spoke, he spoke to each one of us.
So on the day I roll up to the school, there was a line the whole length of the football field to say hey to Coach Garvin. I couldn't wait to see him although I doubted he'd remember little ole me after 20 years!
It took me almost an hour to hear him speak my name, as he had spoken each other name of every one of us in that line I imagine.
"How have you been? What have you been doing? You still smoking?"
I missed my 10 years reunion but I went to 15 years.
As some said, most people came to impress others. I don't care, I was there to see a guy I was friends with in school. He was a very intelligent dude, but clearly had a problem with authorities. When we got older, he worked as a chemist and also liked drugs. Back in the days, we used to smoke pot regularly but he found other friends and things for worse. Like cooking-meth-and-get-your-door kicked-in-weekly-by-cops-or-russians-worse. Last thing I heard, he went to jail for a couple of years.
When I met him at the reunion, he was also happy to see me. We talked almost the whole evening, it was great. What I liked the most, he found a wife when he got out of jail, she supported him to get rid of an heroin-addiction he got in jail and he's a proud father of two kids. Nice transformation.
Nothing to be ashamed of.Giphy
I was one of the valedictorians and got voted most likely to become president, I dated the same guy most of the way through high school and married him in college.
10 years down the way, I was divorced and on disability for mental illness. I was actually afraid to go to the reunion because things were TOTALLY different. I don't know why, but I seriously thought people would think bad of me for getting a divorce.
Our school did something interesting for the reunion. One part was a formal sit down dinner that cost something like $80. But another part was a free BBQ down at the local park. I went to the freebie. Everyone was pretty casual. Very few of the former popular crowd came - guess they just wanted to show off at the formal dinner.
Lots of other people there had been honors students and had also gotten a harsh smack in the face by life. Lots of the valedictorians and honors students failed out of college by sophomore year. I know a couple of them had gone through rehab. I was surprised to find I wasn't the only one who was mentally ill - we'd all apparently been REALLY good at hiding it in high school.
A lot of people got into fields no one would have pegged them for. The shyest girl worked as a pharma rep, scrawny dorky kid was now absolutely ripped and in the military. I'd been known as a writer and journalist, but I know several people were surprised to hear I'd primarily worked as a computer tech.
So I'd worked myself up for nothing. I was glad I went. I'm guessing the school didn't bother to do anything for 20th or 25th, or maybe the former popular kids decided having a free event again was gauche.
There was a kid in my high school who was, for lack of a better term, a huge f*ck up. Lots of drugs, really overweight, constantly getting suspended, getting in fights, trouble with the law, etc.
So I show up to my 10 year reunion, And there is this guy there that nobody recognizes. Tall, long hair, muscular, pretty good looking. It's the same guy. Literally none of us could picture him so he had to show us old photos on his phone. He told me that after high school he got a job cleaning pools, which "saved his life" according to him. It was really tough work which got him in shape, and helped him kick drugs and gave him a purpose. Eventually he started his own pool cleaning business and has since expanded it enough that he makes fantastic money and doesn't even work 40 hours a week, and it's still growing.
It sounded like he had some demons to work through, but he literally went from being somebody we all kinda expected to spend his life in jail, to arguably being the best looking guy at the reunion, making more money than almost anyone there, and just having a huge turnaround. Probably the biggest talk of the night, and honestly, I think everyone was really impressed. I know I was. He deserved all the kudos he got.
We got in contact via 'friendsreunited' (if anyone remembers that) and I was chatting with a couple of people in the weeks leading up to the reunion
I was making jokes about seeing a girl - Carol - who everyone wanted to 'be friends' with. Making jokes about how she was a flirt and probably had been through a couple of husbands by now, when someone informed me that she had died of cancer at age 20
Once at the reunion, I asked 'whatever happened to Gary L'... Gary was a joker, he was friends with everyone and, somehow, able to fit in with all the different factions at school.
I was told that Good ol' Gary was in prison, on multiple counts of Possession of CP.
All I know is I got super drunk with my favorite teacher at our 5-year reunion. She's amazing. She's a romance writer, not above a stupid prank, and a ton of fun. It's not the only time we got drunk together. Seeing different a side to teachers is interesting as an adult.
Awwww that's so great.
Our school had a 3 strike rule, even to drugs. I was the supply teacher that people liked and talked to, I helped a kid when his parents were on drugs, it turned out he was on drugs too. Weeks after that he just looked tired and worn out.
Next time I see him he's happy, cheerful and a great looking guy he would no longer have to keep his head down, he was no longer the weird kid that everyone stays away from.
I ran into my old math teacher who thought I was a complete dummy a few months ago. He's not a teacher anymore, runs a tire shop.
He was pretty shocked that I'm doing very well in life.
I wouldn't either.Giphy
Since I was still in school, I couldn't wait to attend my reunions; I imagined we're all finally our fully developed selves, over the pettiness and cliques, able to converse as adults.
I flew across the country to attend my 10th reunion. It was small, and awkward, and there were a LOT of single moms with 10-year-olds. It was in our town's local bro-pub. No one spoke to me then either.
Did not attend 20th.
Good for him.
My first two years there was a kid who was very troubled. Complete disruption, immature, defiant. He was caught selling Xanax, was almost put up for expulsion and graduated after doing just enough independent study work...
A few years later he showed up to the reunion a completely different person. Tall, in shape, confident, well-spoken and he had just passed his exam to become an x-ray technician. He had very normal conversations with staff members and I about budgeting so he could save up for a nicer house and other appropriate topics. If you'd have known this kid when he was in his teens never in a billion years would you have thought you'd have that kind of conversation with him. Very proud of him.
A lot can relate.
At my 40th I was stunned at the number of classmates in recovery. Being in recovery brought together classmates who 49 years earlier had nothing in common.
Sometimes you just move on.Giphy
Only half of my class showed up for the 10 year. We are supposed to have my 20 year this year, but I doubt it will even happen. Even if we weren't dealing with a global pandemic, I don't think anyone really gives a sh*t. I went to a small (for NJ) Catholic high school; we had a tight class, but most of us just moved on with our lives to care much.
Went to my 30th in November, flew there just to go to the reunion. Reconnected with my favorite teacher from high school, who was the same age I am now when she taught me. Told her she had to go to the reunion and she had a blast.
So glad I went especially in light of everything now. Made a point of telling the people who were good and kind to me what they did and how it still impacts me.