Elementary classmates reunite after 40 years | SierraSun.com

Elementary classmates reunite after 40 years

Renée Shadforth

Photo by Josh Miller/Sierra Sun Former classmates, from left, Karen Hedlund, Dennis Richards, Dana Scanlon, Garee Lynn Stewart, Pamela Little gather to reminisce over old photos. The five were among about 40 adults who gathered at West End Beach last week for their 40-year eighth grade class reunion.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the Truckee Elementary eighth-grade class of 1963 got together to take a class picture.The former students, most of them now 54 or 55 years old, gathered at West End Beach on Friday to view old photos of their awkward teen years and catch up on where they’ve been up to for the past four decades.”The whole atmosphere is … it’s like we went back in time,” said Pat Tapia, a former Truckee resident who now lives in the Bay Area. “One of the big surprises is how successful everyone has been, and they’re not done yet, you know. They’re still working on it.”The classmates attended school at Truckee Elementary on Donner Pass Road. Before that, many went to the grammar school on Church Street, what is now the Truckee Donner Community Center.

The entire class of ’63 wasn’t in attendance, but the turnout was exceptional: Of the 60-some students in the class, 42 said they would attend the reunion, 10 had died and organizers weren’t able to contact three.It wasn’t easy to get some of the students to attend the reunion.”At first, some of them weren’t too interested in it,” said Dennis Richards, a lifelong Truckee resident who helped organize the event. “I sent some of them photos to get them jazzed. I was persistent. Some of them said they wouldn’t have come to this if it was a high school reunion.”Rather than reuniting students from the local high school – who lived in Truckee and on the North Shore at the time – Richards and his co-organizer, Dana Scanlon, decided on a Truckee Elementary get-together because everyone in those classes lived in town.”Once we got in high school, we weren’t as close-knit of a group,” Richards said.

It took four months for Richards and Scanlon to locate their former classmates using networking, classmates.com and other Internet search tools.Further complicating the search, many class of ’63 families moved away after eighth-grade graduation.”The interstate was completed in 1963 and a lot of parents were construction workers on the freeway,” Richards said. “A lot of them moved out of the area.”Each former student had a name tag with an old picture – many of the guys had crew cuts and the gals had bob cuts with horn-rimmed glasses. A few brought old photos they dug out of boxes just for the reunion. There was even a surprise visit from their fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, Jack Stevers, now 84 years old.

For some, with tears in eyes, it was an emotional experience.”I’m getting goose bumps,” exclaimed Garee Lynn Stewart. “This is great, just great.”After sharing photos, the group ate lunch catered by Florian’s Fine Wine and Specialty Foods and shared more stories. Some of the classmates talked about getting together regularly.”It’s neat seeing these people so many years later,” Scanlon said. “When you realize there’s a certain amount of attrition in your numbers, you have to start thinking about getting together. I think there’s a group of us that’s going to try to do this more often.”