Need 20 minutes of comedy Q? Jim Mace, Sacramento, California, wrote “I’m looking for a short skit about teenagers and high school life in the 1950s and ’60s. A semi-comedy to last between 10 and 20 minutes.”
A! My inclination was to suggest he write his own, but thought I'd check first to see if any of the experts at the National Association of Reunion Managers (NARM) knows of or has an answer.
Kandy Davidson, 1st Class Reunions, Loganville, Georgia, also suggested Mace write his own skit after talking to people in that age group about their funny experiences.
Carol Riley, Reunions Unlimited, Olympia, Washington, agreed that he write his own based on his class. Another approach is to watch old TV shows for ideas, or at least jog his memory! Riley had one class that did a skit of announcements over the school’s public address system. This year they hosted a 40-year reunion and brought in the current HS Band and Cheerleaders!
Reunion Specialists, Carlsbad, California, suggested any of the songs from Grease would be cute and could easily be adapted.
What about inviting kids who didn't graduate with us? Q? Michael C. Gergel, New Boston, Michigan, writes “I am on a reunion committee and we received this question from a classmate. Is it typical to invite former classmates who did NOT graduate with us? Other classmates are asking the same question.
“Some schools say yes, others say no. For example, Fort Ashby High School Class of 1973 committee decided to invite any class member during their sophomore, junior and/or senior year but may not have graduated with the class. Other schools invite classmates from years before and after to attend.
“We have made no distinction between those who graduated and those who moved or did not graduate from Napoleon High School. I was invited to my high school reunion at another school I attended from kindergarten through 8th grades.
“Is there tradition about this or is it up to the committee?”
Riley, owner of Reunions Unlimited, Olympia, Washington, and member of the National Association of Reunion Managers (NARM), answers.
We invite, and add to the list, anyone who was a member of that class anytime in their life. As children and teens, it was not usually our decision or first choice to go to another school, move or even drop out because of difficult personal circumstances or health. Sometimes classmates do not actually graduate until the year after if they needed summer school or a few extra credits.
We do not typically formally invite those from the year ahead or the year behind but if they ask and want to pay that is fine with us. They must have had a strong association with the class. We never let anyone from the class or any other class attend without paying!
I feel this info is very helpful and who ever plans the next one I would like them to still get this info. I've set up the Appleton West 1996 e-mail account specifically for this purpose. So I could hand it off to the next person and they don't have to duplicate any of the work I already did. They'll just have to maintain it.
-Mandy Wachtendonk, Neenah, Wisconsin, Appleton (WI) West High School Reunion
It's our 50th! what do we do? Q? The dilemma
A California Class of the 1950's faces its golden anniversary reunion and pleads “We need new ideas, new formats for activities, new means of announcing the event and new presentations for ‘the big night’ program.” To start, we asked what they’d done before to avoid replaying old songs. Here’s the response:
Friday evening there were one or two get-togethers at classmates’ homes for reacquainting, drinking and chatting.
Saturday morning, weather permitting, there was a golf outing for men while women visited, shopped and lounged at home or their hotel. Saturday afternoon there was a picnic which very few attended or visits to the high school, museum or other places of interest. Saturday evening the big bash was dinner at a place large enough to accommodate 100 graduates plus spouses and guests. The program rarely varied; an MC paid tribute to the reunion committee for their hard work [Editor’s note: Let’s not change that], recognized deceased classmates, and introduced a program of a monologue, skits, and awards for who came the furthest, had the most grandchildren, etc. Finally, the evening was capped off with dancing to recorded music from the past which attracted very few people and a lengthy session of group and individual photos taken by a hired professional.
Sunday morning breakfast was followed by announcements and a short church service.
“People are becoming bored and there are always problems finding lost classmates and with funding. Funding was charging each attendee a one-time fee which invariably left the committee to make up shortages in the general fund. No wonder volunteering is declining.”
A! We found this dilemma about a 50th class reunion somewhat universal for all reunions. Therefore, any class reunion organizer will find intriguing ideas from these experts. We turned, yet again, to members of the National Association of Reunion Managers (NARM), who make their livings organizing class reunions. They are paid to keep reunions from boredom.
Nikki Anderson, Reunion Specialists, Inc., Carlsbad, California wrote that several classes she’s working with invited a representative from the high school to do a “then and now” presentation. They included things like school enrollment, number of staff, classrooms, parking spaces. One class invited a school group (band, dance team) to perform. This season they have several classes doing Sunday events that include a “Day at the Races.” Football or baseball games with tailgate parties are also popular.
Deirdre Marvin, ReunionTeam.com, Vernon Hills, Illinois,reported “a big hit at an older classmates” reunion. The reunion committee made a contribution to the high school and their marching band made an appearance at the reunion playing the school fight song as they marched into the ballroom. Cheerleaders, pom-pom squad or flags add to the presentation. If space does not allow a marching band, a jazz band is a smaller alternative. It makes for a very festive and fun presentation.
Carol Riley, Owner of Reunions Unlimited in Olympia, Washington and past president of NARM, suggests that reunion attendees have expectations and like to have a format to follow. They expect to have one main dinner event which can be changed by having a theme party (’50s, Hawaiian, etc.) and/or a change in menu (BBQ, pig roast or international food stations).
Keep the golf, Riley says, open it to women and move it to Friday afternoon, followed by an informal cocktail party open to all golfers and non-golfers. Or have an informal non-alcoholic reception at the school. On Saturday, “nix the school tour if the school has not had a remodel.”
Cancel the DJ at the main event. Keep the program short, skip the skits and pass around a cordless mike from table to table for classmate introductions. Or maybe offer an open mike for anyone who wishes to share something with the entire group.
Put together a slide show from kindergarten through the 50th year reunion. Make a video or CD of it and offer it for sale.
For a donation, ask current cheerleaders, majorettes or band to perform, adding to the excitement of the event. They run in dressed in school colors with pom-poms, mascot included, and do some cheers or songs. They may also sing or play the school anthem.
Don’t do individual photos. One large group shot is fine and offers classmates a chance to mingle. Or take it a step further and break down into grade school groups.
Offer something totally unique on Sunday. If you live close to a large body of water, secure a large boat (walk-on ferry or something similar), bring onboard light finger food and a bar and go out for a three-hour cruise.
Chris Clishe in Riley’s office, who is midway to her 50-year reunion, suggests an additional event after the reunion. Work with a cruise line or vacation center and offer a class cruise or trip a day or two after the reunion weekend, giving classmates a longer and less scheduled chance to be together.
And finally, Riley makes a surprising conclusion that finding missing classmates is easy. The answer? Hire a NARM reunion professional in your area!
Beth A. Miller is president of Reunited, Inc. in Weston, Florida. She gave careful consideration to the reader’s question to do a golden anniversary reunion a little differently from past reunions.
First, I’d suggest shortening the menu of events to two— at most three. On Friday, a “happy hour” ice-breaker at a local bar or club may be a nice change. It can be done inexpensively by starting early before the “regular” crowd arrives. Try to arrange a drink special (ie: 2-for-1, a drink named for the school mascot for a reduced price or even one hour of open bar) whatever the establishment is willing to provide in exchange for an early-arriving crowd. Ask the establishment to provide hors d’oeuvres and light munchies. Remind management reunion attendees are mainly there to see old friends and not to consume the free drink and leave. Such an event could also provide publicity for the establishment and expose it to potential new and repeat customers.
For the Saturday “big event,” why not change things a bit and dress down, make it casual, they’ve done the dress-up thing before. Take it a step further and ask alumni to dress in school colors. It’s pretty cool to still have spirit after all of those years. Add to the spirit by having a trivia contest throughout the night. Give the DJ/emcee a list of questions about old hang-outs, teachers, who had what kind of car, who was voted best dressed, Homecoming King, etc. Provide token prizes or maybe divide the group into “teams,” for a team prize. Solicit token prizes from local businesses.
Offer an informal Sunday event for the “die-hards,” such as a poolside gathering. Anyone who wants to can order lunch or drinks on their own and it doesn’t raise the ticket price.
Put extra thought into the content of events and really bring people back to the “good ‘ol days” without the pressure of big ticket prices and fancy outfits.