Friday, September 14, 2007

Gathering Some Class

One of the things I've been trying to do this week, in the little free time that I have had, is to start touching base against with my classmates from high school. Next year is our 25th anniversary from our graduation. Some of the usual folks who help with the committee back up in Dunkirk are tied up with health issues with their elderly family members (that happens when we hit our forties and they hit their sixties and seventies). So, I offered to provide a little help, albeit long-distance variety, in a way that I could.

Back in July of 2000, many years before our 20th reunion, I decided to create a Yahoo Group as a place my classmates could come to chat, share pictures, etc. I had a handful of email addresses thanks to (back when they didn't charge you to receive messages with other members nor did they hide email addresses from folks). I invited those folks to the group, and I then proceeded to use my free time searching the Internet for clues on how to contact other folks. Before too long I had located about twenty folks, which was a pretty good start.

As the group started to get popular, our ranks grew. Through folks checking their own connections and from folks seeing others and getting information, the list of contacts continued to grow. By the time it came to the committee planning the 20th reunion, I was able to provide them a pretty good list of addresses and information from our graduating class of 252 students (I had located over half through online means alone).

The group really also served as a way for folks to get back connected. We had an online group of about twenty or so who were dedicated to the once a month chats (usually on a Saturday night) in the provided chatrooms that came with each Yahoo group. When it came time for the reunion, the online contingent had formed a unique subgrouping in the graduating class - one that hadn't existed prior. Back in 1983, you had the jocks, the cool kids, the 'geeks', the popular ones, etc. Our online grouping, who had just spent the last couple years getting to know one another again in an electronic way, seemed to cross over all those former boundaries. What you had was a hybrid of all those former high school cliques. It was really a rather neat thing to see.

So, jump forward now to this week again. I took the class data which I had put together before the last reunion and added to once the last reunion completed, and began to revisit it. I started to email folks who I had online contact info for (I've gotten from A to K so far - I expect to finish the rest this weekend). I've had twenty-two emails so far returned back to me immediately, the mailer-daemons telling me that those addresses are no longer valid. I've heard back from about two dozen or so of the ones that did go through; I'm waiting on responses from about another thirty eight or so. I figure I have about another seventy or so emails left to send - and I'm assuming statisically I'll hit the same percentage of failures, quick responses, and waiting responses. My hope is that by the end of the month I'll have heard back from the waiting responses so I can prepare the first draft of valid addresses lists. For all others, I'll then have to compare where they lived in 2003 and see if the Internet can help me determine if they're still residing in the same towns, homes, etc.

My reward? Seeing as many familiar faces at the reunion next summer as possible.

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