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 Volume IV Issue II Fall - 2001 

Reunion Reflections
by Doug Sheldon '59'

My reflections on alumni weekend start more than a year and a half ago when Bonnie Provenzon Curtis informed the class of 1959 that we would have a reunion in July, 2000, our 41st reunion! It wasn't that we liked the 40th so much, or that we wanted to see each other regularly. It was that we had not been together since our 25th reunion, primarily because there was no one from our class in Sidney with the impetus to put it together, and those of us who lived far away didn't think to try and put it together from afar. Bonnie had returned to live in Sidney and with the help and spirit of Mary Ann Maynard Cramton and Evelyn Buker Avery and Claudia Parent Sowersby and Gordon Bronson and Don Clayton proceeded to organize the first class of 1959 reunion in 16 years.

The class responded in a most positive way and we had over 100 people attending our class dinner in July 2000. Several things made it possible 1) the leadership of Bonnie and the committee 2) the fact that an aging class had begun to reflect on what it might be missing not being in touch with each other 3) email made it easy to communicate (perhaps the most important thing Bonnie did was compile a class email list). 4) all of a sudden there was a Sidney Central High School Alumni weekend! ...just like a major university would have.

Those of us who came back to that reunion were really thrilled and touched to see each other. Many of us in building our lives away from Sidney had forgotten the friends with whom we lived and learned and played and shared and fought and grew up and graduated with in what then, was the achievement of our lives. In fact these friends are part of the fabric of our lives, our loves, our emotions, our values, our growing. They were with us for the better part of our first 18 years and are a decided part of who we became as we grew into who we are. Those of our class who also attended the Sunday All-Alumni lunch learned a few new things. One was there are a lot of other people not in our class that were very much a part of our lives and it was just as enriching to rediscover them. Another was that there was an energy and a vibrancy in this event that spoke volumes about what life and school in Sidney must have given us originally.

Although our teachers are nearly gone now, I look back and feel strongly we had great teachers and we had teachers with personality and we had teachers with character and we had teachers that were real role models. We all had different experiences with teachers, but they taught us well and I remember the dignity of Superintendent Pyle, and the exacting standards of Misses Metz, and Ruland, and Spinelli, and the fire of Nagel and the fathering of Redmond who tried to act so tough, and the way Ward Hermann made us imagine and Bill Cook made us sing and Irma Halbert inspired every young man to want to grow up faster and "think biology" and the bow ties of Gifford, the sarcasm of Drake, the reserved dignity of Harry DeBloom, the severity of Julia Pierson-yet we knew she loved us. On and on I could go and I am sure others could wax lyrical in some of the memories and teacher-student relationships they had. And isn't that the point? Aren't our class mates and school friends and teachers such a deep and continuing part of us? Aren't they some of our strongest roots?

One of the greatest things that happened to me was when "my teacher" in music at Hamilton College asked me to go with him every year to the Hamilton College reunion. He hadn't taught there for 15 years and I hadn't been back but one day for my 5th reunion. I had stayed away because I had trouble imagining it to be the place I knew it to be and wanted it to be and I had no desire to go back. But he was a great teacher and a great friend and he wanted me to work with him each year to put an alumni choir together for a Service of Remembrance for those had died who were members of the classes attending the reunion. I now have gone for 22 years and I have rediscovered and developed friendships that are so important to me now and that connect me directly back to the four college years during which I learned more than in my first 18 years. Four years which changed and reformed me so much.

So Bonnie's email about SCHS Class of 59 Forty-First Reunion was a thrill for me as was the reunion itself. And I, having seen the spirit of the class of 1968 (which was not in a reunion year, but which decided to celebrate their 50th birthday together on Alumni Weekend 2000), then suggested to Bonnie that the class of 1959 should celebrate its 60th birthdays in Sidney on Alumni weekend in July 2001 and that we did, and we had over 50 people at a beautiful Saturday picnic at the Sowersby's sitting on a mountain with a view of all of Sidney. Meeting two years in a row meant we got all the more reacquainted and discussed and relived parts of our lives, forgotten, but once remembered, important and thrilling and funny and touching all over again. It will be hard for us to meet again before 2004, our 45th reunion, because it takes so much work to put these things together and it seems that the same few people have to do it each time.

But, I for one, will try to go All Alumni weekend in Sidney each year and I will try to get some of my class together each year or link up with another class such as my brother's (1958) or sister's (1963) because after all, I grew up with all of them too.

I came away so impressed that I made two commitments 1) to my class of 1959 a commitmerrt to help sponsor financially each event we organize to get together where on a reunion year or not 2) to serve on the Financial Committee of SHS Alumni Association to help to find ways to continue the support and growth of their work.

I hope all SHS alumni can share the thrill of memories and friends recaptured and the spirit and joy of being together again even if only one week end a year.

Sidney hasn't particularly grown, and its changes are not drastic. It still has charm and beauty and a good school system. But the amazing part is the vibrancy and energy and pride and joy you see in Sidney when you are together again with your first friends!