Fifty years ago this month, I was one of nearly 400 high school seniors from Westerville (South) High School who marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” to receive our graduation certificates.
Looking back, my main regret is I did not ask for help in my studies. Instead, I relied on my music ability to get me through life and onto my goal to become a music teacher.
That never happened. Best-laid plans and all that. But I know I’m not alone.
My classmates have tried to keep track of each others’ whereabouts over the years, yet we have lost track of about 60. As far as we know, 81 live in 29 other states, one lives in Newfoundland, one in France and two in Japan.
In 50 years, we know 49 classmates have died.
Dee (Weaston) Standish was a classmate of mine from kindergarten on. She now lives in Marietta. Her best-laid plans worked for her.
“My career turned out just the way I hoped it would,” she said. “I became a teacher, allowing me to work with children every day. I was in education until I retired.
“My advice to graduating seniors is to follow your passion, and it will help you find fulfillment in your chosen career.”
Barbara (Ralston) Thurber and her husband have lived in Austin, Texas, for 30 years.
“I would tell a graduating senior that life is going to give them many challenges,” Thurber said.
Her life has been interesting as a nurse.
“I served in the Air Force and have worked at many different places,” she said. “I have used my knowledge to take care of myself, my mother with cancer and my three daughters.”
Now her health prevents her from traveling to Ohio for our 50-year reunion.
Classmate Jim Garvie, now in Oklahoma, said his high school days were riddled with poor grades and anonymity as an introvert.
“No one gave me an outlook into what I could be or what I could do in the future,” Garvie said. “The moment I graduated and went to Bowling Green State University, it all changed. Loved college life, less structure and a reason to enjoy life.”
As his grades improved, he became involved in sports for the first time and began a major in physical education and teaching.
He found coaching and teaching health, science and driver’s education fun.
“I cannot believe I ended up in a career where I was paid to have fun,” Garvie said. “It’s the last thing I ever thought I would do in life.”
He knew there were students in high school who were like him at that age – unmotivated and with no clear future ahead.
“In classes, I developed a reward system where kids that behaved and did their work could earn extra credit and get the grades they wanted,” he said. “In football, I was able to get them involved as a team manager or actually on the teams, even if they were not athletically gifted.”
As a result of his teaching and coaching, he was hired by the Department of Defense to teach and coach on military bases in Japan, South Korea and Italy.
Many of my classmates are grandparents and have life experiences we never thought possible 50 years ago.
We sent a reunion survey to learn what people wanted to happen at the event.
Most wanted time to casually visit and reconnect, see memorabilia of our high school days and walk through the school building. They would love to see teachers and let them know the impact they had on their lives.
Music of the 1960s will play; name badges will halt the awkward moments because we have all changed in appearance. Laughter and maybe tears will happen along with memories.
Classmates from Massachusetts, Nevada, Kentucky, Wisconsin and all around Ohio will gather Aug. 3 to celebrate the 50-year mark in our lives. More than once, we will say, “Has it really been 50 years?”
We learned from our experiences and are wiser for them.
Take heed, graduates. Time passes quickly.
Local author Liz Thompson writes the Day by Day column for ThisWeek Community News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.