When Pittsburgh-area resident Dave Chambers graduated from in 1976, there was no such thing as the internet as we know it, laptops or Facebook.
But today, Chambers, a graduate of The College of New Jersey (AKA Trenton State College) and a hospice chaplain, has used the power of the internet and Facebook to create an online reunion of sorts for himself and his classmates through the page that he created, Growing Up at Hightstown High in the 1970s.
He said he created the page so that he and other graduates of HHS from the 1970s could “reconnect and reminisce." But he had no idea that the page would be so popular—a recent count numbered the page’s members at 479, and some discussions on the page have attracted as many as 150 comments, he said.
“I joined right at the beginning, and it has been an awesome experience for all of us," said Ginny Hancock-Stefan, a 1975 graduate of HHS. “[There are] so many memories and it is amazing to ‘talk’ with former classmates and friends I haven't seen in 36 years.”
For Chambers, who was very involved in the HHS community during his high school years (he was a varsity letterman on the football team, a trombone player, sang in the chorus and participated in field events on the track team), the page’s popularity has come as a surprise. “I have been making friends with people I didn’t necessarily go to school with,” he said.
The page may even help some of its members reunite in the real world–many are planning to attend a reunion in August, according to Chambers. “It has reconnected a lot of people who had lost touch with each other,” he said.
Added HHS graduate Bernadette Scheerer, “Each day it's a little dose of small-town America, a reflection of our childhood and our teenage years—the people and places that intertwined in our lives making us part of who we are today.”
The Facebook page has become a place to share memories about favorite school activities and classes, to post 1970s-era HHS photos (see photos to top-right of this story) and to share news, both happy and sad, about classmates’ lives post-graduation.
A plus for many of the page’s members is that it links HHS classmates from across classes, so people can reconnect with diverse people they shared their high school experience with, not just the students with whom they graduated.
“Most of us had multi-class friends,” said former East Windsor resident Maureen Monaghan-Baab. “We liked kids older and younger, so the traditional class reunion doesn't appeal to as many people. I think that is why this site is so popular with most of us.”