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Back To High School?
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I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how things went at my recent class reunion. I’m an Oakdale High School alumna, and the word is around town about the wild party. For those of you who haven’t been in a local beauty salon or coffee shop to hear all about it, this is my story.

It was a four-class “bash” at the country club with my class being the oldest in the group. This made for an interesting dynamic that still has me shaking my head about a few things.

The turnout was huge, but there are many from my class who are spread out around the country and weren’t able to attend. A few traveled some distance though and I visited with several classmates who still live in the area but I hadn’t seen in years.

I don’t believe I knew a single person who was in the freshman class when I was a high school senior and I discovered that nothing has changed about that — still don’t know anyone from that class.

Having all those people together was an awful lot to take in and absorb in one evening. Adding to my difficulty, I went off and forgot my glasses (a “senior” moment already) at my friends’ house prior to the event. Seeing people at a distance in a very crowded room was problematic and I’m sure that some of them probably think I’m conceited because I didn’t smile or say hello. Most people had to get up really close before I recognized them.

A couple ways to observe how people change over the years: there’s the physical appearance and then there’s the personality. Some people said I hadn’t changed at all, while others said I’d changed a lot in my appearance. Well, I certainly don’t look like a 17-year-old girl anymore, that’s for sure. A few of the guys threw me off with their facial hair — they didn’t have any in high school. Prematurely gray and fully bald were also in the mix.

It was nice to see that some people have done well for themselves and are successful. You expect people to pretty much have their act together by the time they’re in their mid- to late thirties. Even though we’re still evolving, we’re grownups now … Right?

Not necessarily.

It’s disheartening to see that some people have become more irresponsible than they were in high school — a few of these “adults” even have spouses and children. Unfortunately, a few people had way too much to drink and misbehaved accordingly. Groping and rude gestures in the photo booth — where the snaps were posted on the Internet — and doing donuts in someone else’s golf cart are unbecoming behavior for a thirty-something. You would think that people would try not to show the worst side of themselves to an audience of 200-300 people they haven’t seen in 20 years.

For the most part though, I really enjoyed myself. I thought the organizers for our classes did a good job in coordinating such a big party and they thought of some nice extras to have at the event — although, in retrospect, a couple bouncers may have been helpful.

One thing that made me philosophical about how much our lives have changed since we were teens was when my classmates pulled pictures of their kids out of their wallets to show. We used to be the kids in those wallet-size photos that our parents would pull out and show to their friends.

I also thought about how privileged I am to have gone to school in a small town. Some of my classmates and I have known each other since kindergarten. It was so great that we all got stay together and graduate from the same high school as a collective.

One of my friends brought our senior yearbook to the reunion. So whenever there was someone that we couldn’t figure out who they were, we’d look up their picture in the yearbook. After 20 years, you forget.

We tragically lost a few friends before we graduated and we lost some over the years, even a couple in the last year, but we remember them.

All of that is part of what makes a one-high school town so special.

Stashed in a drawer, I still have photos of my friends from our high school years. Prom pictures, freshman photos, senior portraits. Why didn’t I think to take them to the reunion? Well, maybe I’ll remember for the next one.


Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.