The Class of 1966 at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois (E.T.H.S.) will be holding its 50th reunion next September 9-10. Yes, many high schools across the nation hold such reunions, even more than 50 years, but the members of this particular class will be more than reliving fond memories collected from a four-year stint of high school-age years, recalling exciting athletic teams earn victories and being awarded trophies, remembering performances on the stage of plays and musicals like the "Yamo" productions, attending AP classes, and forming friendships and becoming neighbors in the communities that funneled students to E.T.H.S. We were nerds, jocks, geeks, performers, of the "cool" crowd, and any other description one could think of to describe a class of high schoolers with raging hormones.
I am among those students.
The mid-1960s were turbulent times in the nation, recall the passage into law of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, voting rights legislation, and a momentous social program called Medicare, as if in microcosm of end products of those times; of course, who of our generation can forget the Viet Nam War conflict, the Beatles and other "mop-top" groups across the pond, and what those happenings did to our collective thinking and social consciousness as high school students.
But this class of 1966 (over 1,000 when senior year began) was to produce leaders in various disciplines unbeknownst to us as students at the time. Just by way of example only, there is Oliver Ruff who became one of the most outstanding educators and civic leaders in the Evanston community. Or, what about Roger Keats, later to be a stalwart of Illinois Republican politics, including as a leader in the Illinois State Senate for years; Charles Johnson, distinguished Professor of English (now Emeritus), author, playwright, screenwriter, National Book Award winner, and recipient of various literary awards, including an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; Cleopatra Bugelas Alexander, leader in the Chicago area not-for-profit world and a member of distinguished philanthropic boards, like the Albert Pick Jr. Fund, Nat'l. Museum of Mexican Art, and the Women's Board of Chicago's Art Institute; or Mike Rogodzinski who played professional baseball in the "show" for the Philadelphia Phillies after a stellar baseball career at So. Illinois University. There were scores more from the class that distinguished themselves by their careers, professions, achievements and everyday contributions, too numerous to mention in this article. The class also was known---perhaps more importantly---for its diversity and how individuals from all walks of life (described in the opening paragraph) intertwined and connected in a harmonious fashion that produced results and became the bedrock for their leadership in the community, our state, and, yes, even nationwide, in the years to come. We served our country proudly in time of an unpopular war, though some among us never returned. There are also others who are no longer with us either, or who were not as successful in arriving at goals once thought worthy of achieving; death and misfortune visited us all in various ways... unfortunately. Concomitantly, there are scores and scores more that made an impact on their surroundings, partnered up with loved ones and significant others, had families, bore children, and then have been graced with grandchildren in recent years. These life events are, to be sure, as much of a treasured "award" as others of paper, plastic and metal resulting from being recognized by peer groups and organizations.
Yet, there is more to a reunion than to tick off or recall names of classmates that graduated with us or to say, "I knew him (her) when we were in high school". A reunion of so many years as 50 allows us to return to our roots, to a time where life's weathering of our lives and experiences (good and not so good) over the succeeding next 50 years had yet to take place. True, four years in high school of studying, putting up with peer pressure and teachers we thought were unfair or too tough, worrying about the score we would receive on the ACT or SAT tests, trying to get into college or a university of our choice or seeking out satisfactory employment as an alternative, and plain old grades was not all pleasurable. But an opportunity to return to our scholastic home when we were 14-17 year-olds or so allows each one of us to reacquaint with one another with whom we have lost touch for so many years, and to rekindle those relationships as if a delicious food we always enjoyed but can't find anymore. Just ask the members of the committee that are planning the reunion when they get together. It is always worthwhile accepting an invitation to meet and greet a past unencumbered by what life would subsequently bring each one of us; the 50th high school reunion for this class of 1966 will be doing precisely that.
The goal here is not to showcase our reunion in a "one and done" writing, but to add and supplement it in the weeks and months ahead. After all, this particular class is a distinguished one with more than this writer's words to be heard. To reiterate, all of you that are members of the E.T.H.S. class of 1966, keep open the weekend of September 9-10, 2016.
Though other activities will be planned and an announcement about them forthcoming in the months ahead, the reunion dinner will be held on Saturday evening, September 10, at the Double Tree Hotel, Golf Rd. and Skokie Blvd. in Skokie, Illinois. For further information, contact either Joel Kurasch at email@example.com or Charlotte Murphy at, firstname.lastname@example.org. See you all then!