Really, do we even need high school reunions any more?
Think about it: We used to go to a high school reunion because it was the only way to easily catch up with former classmates and hear what they’d been up to over the previous five or 10 years.
But with Facebook and Twitter, we are constantly bombarded with updates. Why bother spending 80 bucks just to stand in the same room?
That’s the mind-set that Fran McLean says she is fighting. Fran runs Five Star Reunions, a reunion planning firm based in Montgomery County. A 1973 graduate of Springbrook High in Silver Spring, Fran started the company 18 years ago after working on one of her own school’s reunions.
“I said, ‘You know what? I know what I’m doing. I’m going to start my own business,’ ” Fran said.
Fran says that when she started her company, a third to a quarter of a graduating class typically would go to its 10-year reunion. Now that’s down to a quarter to a sixth. The economy is a factor, but social media is largely to blame, Fran said.
“My personal mission is to keep telling people the importance of a class reunion,” she told me. “It’s not the same as Facebook. It’s a networking opportunity. It can be a place to find love if you need it or want it, a way to rekindle old friendships. You can’t replace an in-person handshake and hug. You just can’t do it.”
Of course, Fran has a vested interest in reunions. It’s her business. And the Web has made some things easier, such as finding those missing classmates and inviting them to the reunion. That has also resulted in more classes planning their own reunions, rather than hiring firms such as Fran’s. In the seven years I’ve been listing local reunions, several of those firms have folded.
I do wonder what the future holds for this uniquely American tradition. Sociologists decry how so many of us spend hours with our eyes staring at a screen, convinced we’ve had a meaningful encounter because we’ve “liked” someone’s Facebook status or “favorited” someone’s tweet.
For some of us, these are new things, things we never did in high school. But younger generations are growing up in a time when their virtual friends outnumber their physical ones. Will they bother getting together every five years for something as old-fashioned as a reunion?
These local high schools are reuniting in the coming months:
Montgomery Blair High Class of 1973 — Aug. 10. www.FiveStarReunions.com.
Montgomery Blair High Class of 1993 — Nov. 9. www.FiveStarReunions.com.
Central High School — Annual Reunion of the Alumni Association, May 15. Contact Howard Hooper at 410-721-0731.
Central High (Suitland) Class of 1983 — June 15. Contact Lynda at Central1983falcons@yahoo.com or Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calvin Coolidge High Class of 1963 — Oct. 12. Contact Linda G. Burka at 202-362-4880.
Eastern High School — Fifty Plus Club. April 27. For all alumni who graduated prior to 1962. Contact Richard Drechsler at 301-297-7759.
Garfield High Class of 1983 — Aug. 10. www.greatreunions.com.
Thomas Jefferson High Class of 1983 — Aug. 24. www.greatreunions.com.
Walter Johnson Class of 1973 — Oct. 12. Visit www.wj73.com or, on Facebook, WJ Class of 1973 - 40th Reunion 2013.
Robert E. Lee (Springfield) Class of 1983 — Oct. 5. www.greatreunions.com.
Loudoun Valley Class of 2003 — June 29. www.Five StarReunions.com.
James Madison High Class of 1988 — Oct. 5. www.greatreunions.com.
Northwestern High Class of 1958 — June 28-30. Contact email@example.com.
Northwestern High Class of 1963 — Sept. 27-28. Contact NHS1963@hotmail.com or call Larry Felter at 703-620-4793.
Northwood High Class of 1958 — Oct. 4 and 5. Contact Nelson Lawry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northwood High Class of 1973 — Oct. 19. www.FiveStarReunions.com.
Peary High Class of 1973 — June 22. peary73.com.
Robinson Secondary Class of 1983 — June 21-22. www.robinson1983.com.
St. John’s College High School Class of 1968 — Sept. 21. Contact Mike Noonan at email@example.com.
Springbrook High Class of 1973 — Sept. 21. www.FiveStarReunions.com.
Wakefield High Class of 1963 — May 17-18. Visit wakefieldalumni.org/classes/1963.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington-Lee High Class of 1958 — Oct. 11-13. Visit wl58.org or contact email@example.com.
Wheaton High Class of 1993 — Sept. 7. www.FiveStarReunions.com.
Walt Whitman High Class of 1983 — Oct. 12. Go to www.classreport.org/usa/md/bethesda/wwhs/1983/ or contact Lindsay Youker Levy at 703-241-7959.
T.C. Williams High Class of 1973 — July 27. Write T.C. Williams Class of 1973, 2170 Saffron Ct., Dunwoody, GA 30338 or contact VickiTCW73@aol.com or DrJofVA@aol.com
Woodrow Wilson Class of 1950 — Sept. 21. Contact Damon Cordom at 301-215-7022.
W.T. Woodson Class of 1993 — July 13. www.greatreunions.com.
To read previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.