A Reunion With My High School

Sally Edelstein 1973 High School Yearbook

I’m going back to school today!

A recurring dream I’ve had for decades is that I never actually graduated high school in 1973.

The reason – I failed gym.

The only way to get my diploma was to do a make-up class. The thought of that possibility has had me waking up with a racing heart in a pool of sweat for nearly half a century. If high school is the metaphor for shame, gym class was ground zero for me.

I now have the opportunity to put this dream to rest.

I’m returning to my suburban high school today, a place I haven’t been in since Richard Nixon was president. I will either confirm I am a genuine high school graduate or I will suddenly be compelled to attend gym class and clumsily fall off the balance beam in shame as I once did for all humiliating 6 years of school.

High School Reunion

Yearbook pages

My class of ‘73 is holding its 50th High School reunion this year but my interest in attending it is pretty dim. An overpriced cocktail party in a suburban hotel populated with barely recognizable classmates did not intrigue me.

My curiosity had been sated thanks to Facebook, where the names of kids from my algebra and Earth science class appear with regularity in my feed along with former cheerleaders, football players, and kids who smoked in the bathroom. In short folks, I barely spoke in my entire time at Carey High School.

But 50 years since graduation ( assuming I really did graduate) is a milestone.

Who needed a high school reunion when what I really wanted was a reunion with my high school.

Visiting my old Junior-Senior high school where I spent the entirety of my adolescence did intrigue me. The chance to walk the once-familiar yellow-tiled halls filled with so many ghosts was compelling.

Like a Vietnam vet returning to Saigon, I am prepared to be triggered and for my PTSD to kick in. No matter how accomplished I may feel in my life, as I think of walking those halls, all the High School insecurities flood back, though in fact, they are never far from me.

But there were some remarkable life-affirming times too.

School Daze

Without the benefit of my own children, I have not set foot in an actual school classroom at all for 50 years, let alone my own high school.

The changes will be astounding. Startling even.

But it is just that juxtaposition of the foreign with the deeply recognizable that intrigues me.

One practical, sobering element that will be unrecognizable is the level of safety in schools.

This visit could not of course be a spontaneous one just moseying in off the street. It was planned way in advance and set up through many email exchanges with the current principal. Security guards, something unheard of even 30 years ago will be part of the equation now.

The principal, a fellow I am now on a first-name basis with is a lovely man likely 20 years my junior.

Communicating with Chris, I found myself regressing into student mode.  He had the opportunity to read several of my writing clips and the thoughtful and effusive responses he had to them, boosted my spirits more than if I had received accolades from an editor at The New York Times. My high school principal basically gave me an A in writing and I felt joyous.

Maybe I have hopes of getting that diploma after all.

And while you’re at it Chris, can you sign a waiver from ever having to re-take gym class?













  1. Delightful! I had a similar recurring dream for decades. Enjoy the visit. Hurry up now; you’ll be late for School!


  2. tripichick

    safety? not for an iutspoken altwer-abled ninbinary per irked at the privilged


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