After much anticipation, I attended my 30th year high school reunion. It was my first. I can easily sum up the experience in a quote from an unknown author. “Sometimes life gives us only brief moments with one another, but sometimes in those brief moments, we get memories that last a lifetime.” From 1983 to 1987 I did something that every American teenager does. I attended high school and eventually received a piece of paper that calls me a high school graduate.
June 4, 1987: My final day with my classmates at Arlington High School in Indianapolis. It was a beautiful night for a graduation. I can remember showing up with my family to a sea of black and gold. My classmates and their family members had also arrived for this one special moment in our lives. I can remember how excited we were to know we were preparing for our next journey. After moving to Ohio, I lost contact with my best friend from Arlington and other classmates.
Fast forward 30 years.
June 23, 2017: Our class met to celebrate life. What I found so incredible was that I had not seen any of my classmates since graduation night. But when I saw them again, it was like no time had passed. We came together with stories about our children, grandchildren, the loss of parents, old and new love stories, and memories of our classes and teachers.
What I also found interesting was how I bonded with some classmates that I didn’t know during high school. We went to school together for four years but never had the same classes or friends. However, we will always have a special bond. On June 4, 1987, we stood proud and received our diplomas in front of those who loved us most—our family.
Our reunion committee put together a great weekend. We had our Friday evening dinner and then a tour of our old school. We finished our reunion at a local park where we ate, drank, hugged, laughed, and danced. I didn’t want it to end. It’s funny how we don’t appreciate the gift of friendship and love when we are 17 and 18. We just assume it’s permanent. It’s not until we have lived long enough to attend a 30-year reunion that we realize what’s important—love, laughter, family, and friendship.
I hugged so many of my classmates. I didn’t want to let them go. I just wanted to hold onto them a little while longer. Unfortunately, I am at the stage in life that I realize that many of my classmates may not be around for the next reunion. For that matter, I may not be either. Life has a funny way of working. It’s really short. We are given a small window of time to be with our loved ones. That’s why we have to make every minute count. If you love someone, don’t wait until the funeral to say it over their casket. Tell them yesterday because tomorrow isn’t promised.
But for a small window of time this past weekend, I felt like I had traveled into the past and turned 17 again. I remember graduation night. We were all talking, laughing, hugging one another and saying our goodbyes. On Saturday, we all said our goodbyes as we had thirty years ago. During our last group picture, we tried to figure out where to stand. It reminded me of Arlington staff trying to get us together for the graduation ceremony. We were too busy having fun to get situated.
I also found it fascinating that none of us spoke about careers or social status. No one cared. Color and social status meant nothing to us. If the world wants a take on how to end racism, they should take a look at our class and watch how we interact. We have an assortment of races. But it doesn’t matter. We all love each other. You won’t find any racism in our class. We all bleed Arlington black and gold.
We also had comradery and friendships that will last until we die. I have friends in my class that I will love until it’s my turn to be with my classmates that have already passed. I have no shame in telling them how much they mean to me. I am not sure how other high school classes feel for each other, but I know the Arlington High School class of 1987 is all about love for one another. As former NFL star Terrell Owens might say, “We loves us some us.” I watched old friends hug each other and take hundreds of photographs and videos. It was great.
My four years at Arlington were the best years of my life. My Arlington diploma means more to me than either of my college degrees. I have life lasting friendships and great memories of my classmates. Our teachers were also wonderful. Even better, Arlington has the best alumni association in Indianapolis. Sadly, Arlington is often unfairly called a terrible school. But I am proud to say I graduated from Arlington with some of the best people anyone could ever hope to know. The school board is also deciding on whether or not to keep Arlington open.
If any of those individual read this, I want them to know it would be a terrible decision to close Arlington. We have great alumni like Mr. Timothy Bass and Mr. Michael Gaulding mentoring and showing much love to students who need this support. The board needs to spend time in the alumni room and look at the photographs and snacks purchased for students. The board should also see our class of 1987 Facebook page managed by Mr. Wesley Booth, who is one of the finest young men to ever grace the halls of Arlington. Wesley is another classmate I am proud to call a friend.
Our page is all about the love we have for each other. But that’s what Arlington is all about. We are about making positive changes in the lives of those who don’t have hope for a college education or to better themselves. We give these young people hope and encouragement. We let them know that greatness awaits them. You can take away a man’s car, home and wealth, but if you take away his hope and dreams, you may as well plan for his funeral.
I want to thank my classmates for the memories and friendship. I love you all and pray for your good health and many more years of life.
I’m out. Peace and love to Arlington’s class of 1987.
Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page Life with Grandpa and he also just wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.