by Rachel Dunphy
Last Friday night, graduates of the Shelburne High School (SHS), which was absorbed into CVU in 1964, gathered together to see each other once more, some for the first time in 50 years.
The reunion, technically held in honor of the class of 1962, but open to all SHS graduates and their families, was organized by Rod Durrell, a ‘62 graduate, from his home in Oklahoma City, Okla.
It’s quite a feat to track down a large collection of people whose only connection is having gone to school together half a century ago, not even all at the same time, and convince them to go back. It’s a whole different animal to do it from six states away, and perhaps it’s because this event began as a long distance affair that it became such an international one.
News of the reunion eventually spread across the world, reaching Harry “Skipper” Edwards as well as Durrell’s son Paul, both of whom have lived in Bangkok, Thailand for years, though they met for the first time Friday night.
In fact, the event brought Durrell’s whole family together. His mother, sisters, children, in-laws, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews were all represented. This was the last hurrah of a family reunion that had lasted several weeks, a gathering he had also organized from Oklahoma. “He said, ‘You either make it here or that’s it,’” one son-in-law reported jokingly.
The gathering itself was filled with old friends who seemed to be more siblings than merely classmates. When the school existed there were about 16 students in each class. “Everybody knew everybody,” alumni Judy Thomas said. And they all loved each other, too, it seemed. All the graduates remembered their class as a big family, and they cared for each other like a family should. “They were all good, just great, great kids,” said Dorothy Cole, who taught the ’62 graduates when they were at Shelburne Central School.
It’s been a long time since grade school, though, and in 50 years, more than half a lifetime for most; it would be natural for some graduates to wonder how different all of their old friends would be. Would they have the same memories of high school? Would they even recognize each other?
It turned out no one had cause to be worried, though, because if this reunion did one thing, it proved true the old maxim: The more things change, the more they stay the same. As the guests shuffled in and jovial conversation began to fill the room, a woman squealed, “Jean!” and ran over to embrace her old classmate enthusiastically as if she were a teenage girl reuniting with her best friend on the first day of the school year.
When Durrell mentioned his reason for taking on the planning of the reunion, “I’m a romantic,” another graduate, Sally Martel, laughed and said, “You don’t change.” “No. I don’t,” he replied.