What Is the Purpose of a Class Reunion?

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If high school reunion movies are to be believed, the purpose of a reunion is to finally catch the eye of the crush who ignored you in school, or maybe to shock your old classmates with how attractive you've become since they made fun of you in the cafeteria. In reality, these events tend to be less dramatic than high school reunion movies would suggest. A reunion is an opportunity for the members of your graduating class to reconnect, celebrate how far you've all come and reflect on how much wiser you are since you wandered the high school halls.

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The Purpose of Reunions

What's the purpose of holding a family reunion? Or scheduling a weekend trip with old college friends you rarely get to see? If you understand the appeal of those gatherings, you can understand why so many people attend high school reunions. These events provide a chance for people to catch up with old friends, get to know their former classmates as adults and reminisce about memories from their school days. Many people who moved away from their hometowns would never see their old classmates again without reunions.

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Sometimes, attending a reunion provides some closure after a difficult school experience. Everyone from the graduating class should be invited to a high school reunion, meaning it's a chance for classmates from all social circles to come together as adults. If you felt ostracized in school, or still carry guilt about how you treated a classmate, a reunion may allow you to make amends or help you let go of some of those past hurts.

Another purpose of reunions is to honor classmates who have died. This becomes more and more important as the class gets older. By a 40th or 50th high school reunion, a graduating class may have lost many of its former members. Holding these events every five or 10 years gives everyone a chance to gather and memorialize their late classmates.

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What High School Reunions Entail

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Class reunions are typically held in five-year increments after graduation, but there's a ton of variation in how class reunions are organized and what activities they involve. Generally a high school reunion celebration is centered around a party, which may be held on school grounds, at a park, at a restaurant/club/event space or even at someone's home. This gathering may be a formal dinner or have more of a casual drinks-and-dancing vibe. Other reunion activities might be planned for the same weekend, like a golf tournament or brunch gathering.

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Sometimes a reunion includes official school involvement. The school may even schedule reunion events to coincide with homecoming weekend every year. The school might do things like host a welcome reception for reunion attendees, give the reuniting class a block of tickets for the homecoming game, or arrange for current students to give school tours to returning alumni. In other cases it's entirely up to former students to plan and execute a high school reunion, meaning each class gets to decide when, where and how to organize the event.

Planning a High School Reunion

If your graduating class is approaching a traditional reunion year and you haven't yet heard anything about plans for a gathering, put out some feelers on social media to see if any of your former classmates have started making reunion plans. If not, take charge and start the planning process yourself. A lot of work goes into planning a successful high school reunion, meaning you may want to enlist a few other classmates to help you with the logistics. (The challenges of planning a big party is one of the things high school reunion movies never show you!)

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Start by polling classmates with a few potential dates for the gathering. Many people will have to travel for the reunion, so you want to lock down the date at least a few months in advance. Once you've identified the most popular date, contact as many classmates as you can find to get a rough sense of how many people will attend. (The school administration office may have a contact list you can use to reach as many people as possible.) Then you can book a venue, arrange for food and drinks and figure out how much you need to charge for tickets in order to break even. Send invitations to the entire class as soon as these details are decided.

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The most fun part of the planning comes later: decorating the venue and planning the entertainment. Naturally, the year of your graduation is the perfect theme. Make a playlist with popular songs from your high school years, blow up photos from your yearbooks to display and create activities that will get people talking. For example, put names of all the attending alumni in a hat and have each person pull one out at the start of the reunion. Challenge them to find that person at the party and learn at least three things about what they've been doing since high school.

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