this is us….shipley class of 1981 on our 40th reunion

Forty years. Seems inconceivable. And Shipley 1981 was several lifetimes ago for a lot of us. Yet here we are.

We have lost three members of our class far too young. Alison Sweet Zieff (2010), Amy Beth Rowan (2020), Pam Post (2021). I will admit I felt each loss rather acutely because these were all amazing women. My husband says we are at “that age”, my mother reminded me today that out of her tiny high school class (around 23) there are literally only of a couple of people still here, including her, so we are very fortunate. There were I believe 75 in our class on graduation day.

Some people have evaporated into their own lives and aren’t connected to any of us in the Class of 1981, but our class is still amazingly still connected, and connected to men and women in classes above us and below us.

Our commencement speaker was Vartan Gregorian. Yes, that amazing man was a friend and classmate Raffi’s father. Vartan Gregorian passed away earlier this month. Which made my friend Anthony (who has been my friend since grade school!) sending me a scan of our commencement program even more special and bittersweet.

One of the things we did excerpts from that I had forgotten at commencement was selections from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”. Damned if I can remember which parts (it’s huge and sprawling as a literary work), so here is a quote:

Song of Myself, 1 [I Celebrate myself]
Walt Whitman – 1819-1892

I Celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass
.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

Morning Has Broken was in the program as well, so here is a video:

Again…FORTY years? I still remember us, the way we were. And I have enjoyed every time we have gotten together for reunions. We have always had fun. Our friends in the Class of 1980 lost their reunion to COVID19 last year, and our reunion this year will be virtual. Some can’t make it, some won’t do zoom. But a bunch of us will be together after a fashion, and after the year plus of COVID19, I think this is important.

I am not going to pretend I am connected to our entire class, I never was when we were in high school. Like any other school there were groups and cliques. I kind of floated in between a few, but didn’t truly belong to any one group or clique in particular…mostly because I liked people from many groups. And I have never liked cliques which is kind of amusing as I was in a sorority in college.

This post / article is kind of like a love letter to my classmates and a school I loved very much back then, but not necessarily all throughout my life when I haven’t agreed with directions the school has taken. But that’s life, right?

I am grateful for the years I had there, and for my friends whom I still hold dear to this day. I am sorry we all can’t be together this reunion in person, but we will be together as we are able this time, and in the future we will be together in person once again.

I close with a snippet of this amazing video released by classmate Robb Armstrong (Syndicated Cartoonist of “Jump Start”, author, motivational speaker, all around good guy). Robb’s mother Dorothy Armstrong, was Shipley’s first black trustee. Sadly Robb and his family lost Dorothy to a horrible cancer 5 months after our graduation.

I will close with lyrics to a song that was sung when we were graduating. Not on graduation day, but at another ceremony involving our class:

From “Fame”: I Sing the Body Electric (Songwriters: Dean Pitchford / Michael Gore)

I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun
And I’ll look back on Venus
I’ll look back on Mars
And I’ll burn with the fire
Of ten million stars
And in time and in time
We will all be stars
I sing the body electric
I glory in the glow of rebirth
Creating my own tomorrow
When I shall embody the Earth
And I’ll serenade Venus
I’ll serenade Mars
And I’ll burn with the fire
Of ten million stars
And in time and in time
We will all be stars
Yeah (ooh)
Ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah
We are the emperors now
And we are Czars
And in time and in time
We will all be stars
I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet come
I toast to my own reunion
(My own reunion)
When I become one with the sun
And I’ll look back on Venus (back on Venus)
I’ll look back on Mars (back on Mars)
And I’ll burn with the fire (burn with the fire)
Of ten million stars
And in time and in time (and in time)
And in time and in time (and in time)
And in time and in time (and in time)
We will all be stars

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