What's happening to my class?
This past week, I've learned that two of my classmates from high school where killed in two different accidents. Sadly, both were on motorcycles going at high speeds without helmets. But what has shocked me more is having a person on a tribute web page saying that 36 of classmates have died since our graduation in 2002.
I didn't come from a small school, I had over 550 students in my graduating class and was part of school district that was in the top 10 in Missouri for size. The school district had three high schools and a lot of students, but it seems that the class of 2002 at Francis Howell Central, the newest of the schools, is having tragic luck.
If I was told that I had lost 36 classmates in a couple years at age 70, I would understand it better. But from the war to accidents to disease, my class has been going down in their very early 20s.
High school was really an experience for me. All the cliché groups that come from teen movies from Hollywood seemed to exist in my high school - the preps, the jocks,the goths, music geeks and everything else.
I didn't honestly know a lot of them. Which was my own fault.
Some of the students that passed away, I didn't know as well as I could have, but hindsight is 20/20. Some of them were good friends that I do miss and it's sad to realize that they are gone for good.
Sometimes it feels like a sinister plot of a bad horror/mystery film. One by one all the students are picked off. Maybe it's like the Stranger Than Fiction movie type thing, where some unseen author is controlling the fate of this class or something.
I'm glad I couldn't have imagined that 36 classmates would be gone within a few years of graduation.
I just hate to think about that type of stuff happening at all, but if it happened in this region of smaller high schools, graduating classes could be whiped out.
For some reason I can't really explain, getting news that a student from my school has passed away gives me little reaction. Maybe because I haven't been back to St. Louis in years, or because outside of a few people, my friends from the area have moved on and I no longer feel very connected.
Some people have been trying to work on getting a reunion set up before the 10 year reunion, set for 2012. I don't know if a lot of people would show up or not but I think I would make a serious effort to get down to the area and visit a lot of old friends.
I'm saddened to see friends and classmates pass away. I don't dwell in depression on it, but I do try to remember them. I think that if there is anything that I've learned is that, don't lose contact with old friends and if do, work on getting them back. You never know when it may get to be too late.
I remember hearing the quote, "If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade." Maybe is time for me to break out the juicer.
* Jeff Jones is a Pilot-Tribune reporter. reach him at jjones@stormlakepilot tribune.com