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 Volume VI Issue II Fall - 2003 
Sidney Senior High Revisited
Reunion Class of 1963
by Fleming Friis Larsen

"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards" - Soeren Kierkegaard
Coming back to meet old schoolmates after 40 years certainly gives the quotation by the old Danish philosopher a lot of meaning and sense. What was started 40 years ago when I arrived in Sidney as a 17 year old schoolboy who, at that time had not travelled much, and was now to live with a new family and suddenly be with 130 or more students, new teachers, new school etc.? Well, to cut it short, it was the single most influential event that in many ways has guided my life, privately as well as professionally.

When you are 17 you take in all new things, and at that time there was no internet, no easy way to keep in touch with the "old world", so I felt at ease being part of my new school, friends and family and quite assimilated to a new way of living.

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Fleming and his wife, chat with John Bethe on Saturday afternoon at the open house at the Roelle's

The differences between Europe/Denmark and the US were very remarkable, when coming to cars, electronics, and lifestyle; while today there is not much difference. My youngest son, who is 16, has already been to the US several times and is widely travelled throughout Europe, as are his two siblings.

I was impressed and took and immediate liking to living in Sidney and I did all I could to be part of the daily life in school with its extracurricular activities which was an entirely new world to me. I joined the staff of the school paper; the Maroon and White and I also attended all the games. I believe the first ever night football game with light was played in the fall of 1962.

Going on buses to the games, singing and joking, I felt very fortunate and also experienced a lot of friendliness through the year. Joining the track team was fiin. John Bethe and I got together at the reunion to talk of the old days when we were going to meets in the league. It was fun to go 40 years back and meet the same positive vibrations from everybody.

I was, in short, integrated and never felt as an outsider. Sidney was home and SSHS was my school. That feeling of belonging was only reaffirmed over the next 40 years when I came back to Sidney either as part of a professional trip that for some time took me to NYC a few times a year and almost every time included a drive up to the Johnsons' in Sidney who always welcomed me.

A special occasion was their Golden Anniversary where all their children, including me, spoke to the golden and wonderful couple. Other times it was for holidays and I was fortunate enough to bring my family sometimes, so my wife and our three children have all been to Sidney and are as such also part of my experience that began in 1962.

Going back home after the great year which contained so many good memories, was not easy and readjusting took some time. I worked during summers as a tour guide for American students and travelled with them around Europe and there were some students from Sidney, so I kept in touch.

Finishing law school, getting established with job and family was a great time and still is. International affairs was always one of my interests after being an exchange student and meeting all nationalities through years of active volunteer work for the exchange (AFS) student organization. I became president of the AFS in Denmark for a number of years. I'm now chairing a new support organization.

Getting ready to go to the reunion and e-mailing back and forth with former classmates was fun. Reading the minutes of the committee meetings on the alumni website and following the preparations was also great as was communicating with old on friends and trying to make arrangements to meet during the few hectic days.

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Fleming makes some remarks at the 40th reunion celebration in July

I left home with my family and before going to Sidney we spent some days in NYC and Washington and also in Gettysburg in order to get to see more of the country. They all liked it a lot and we had fun as a family getting ready for the class reunion.

Coming to Sidney late Friday seeing people and on Saturday attending the open house at the Roelle's was a good time. The class party was wonderfully arranged with all details and I got to meet a lot of friends.

The most astounding thing to me was that whenever I met a person that I had not seen for 40 years, I had instant recall of names and looks-as if we all were 18 again! Even our conversation flowed easily. I only regret that there was not enough time but I guess there never will be.

Thanks for all your kindness and friendliness that gives truth to the statement of the old philosopher. "Life can only be understood backwards" That was given perspective by reliving 1962/63 with so many of you.

I look forward to the 60th birthday party of the class in 2005 and to all the get-togethers and parties that will take place.