Baltimore High School Reunions
Written By Elinor Spokes
Photographed By David Stuck
Poring over their yearbooks as if they were high school seniors again, four members of the Pikesville High School Class of 1991 sat in Lisa Berman Asher’s home one fall morning to reminisce about their high school years. Through it all, there was mutual excitement and anticipation of their upcoming 20th reunion.
It was hard for this group to believe that 20 years had gone by so rapidly. After all, could it be only yesterday that big hair and hair clips were fashion statements?; that Bryan Adams and Paula Abdul were on the radio; “Terminator 2” lit up the silver screen and “Cheers” and “Murphy Brown” were hits on TV?
On the Saturday evening of Thanksgiving weekend, the Pikes-ville High School class of 1991 will reunite at Mustang Alley, an upscale bowling alley and bar downtown. Over half of their graduating class are expected to join together for an evening of reconnecting and trying to recognize the identities of once familiar but now slightly aging faces.
“Twenty is a big one and seems more important than our 10th,” says Asher. The other three classmates, Joanna Zimlin Lewis, Stephanie Feinstein Kagan and Leslie Leon Goldstein, agree.
Looking forward to seeing classmates who were not necessarily friends, but acquaintances back then, will be highlight of the reunion, remarks Lewis.
“Social circles that were so clea-rly defined in high school don’t exist anymore, and 20 years later everyone is friends,” she says.
Although all four women live within miles of the homes in which they grew up and see each other somewhat regularly, they don’t often get the chance to go out together as a group, as they did when they were in high school. That will make the reunion special, they say.
Because they still live in the area, they often run into former classmates, but today it’s in a different social context. Perhaps it’s through their children’s school, playgroup or sports activity.
“You almost forget you went to high school together because now you view them in a different social situation,” says Asher.
“People really did move away from here (Pikesville) despite what people think. It will be great to see those classmates who are coming from out of town — California, New York, New Jersey,” says Asher.
Goldstein agrees. “It is fun to see friends that we don’t see every day and catch up with them.”
“And see people we were really good friends with, but that we have lost touch with,” adds Lewis.
One classmate who did leave the area, Phyllis Belsky Rabinowitz, who now resides in Short Hills, N.J., is making the trip “home” to Baltimore to join her friends for the reunion. “Coming back is a little harder for me because I don’t see people on a regular basis, but it also makes it a bit more exciting,” she says. “I hope to see everyone happy and healthy. These people are such a big part of my life and made an impact on me. I am curious to see where they are in their lives.”
Andrea Polsky is equally ecstatic about her 25th St. Louis Park High School reunion which she recently learned about on Facebook. One of her classmates created a group page and sent her an invitation.
Since she grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, attending her reunion, which will take place next summer, holds great appeal. “I am looking forward to going back because I was very involved in my school and I have lost touch with so many of my classmates.”
Having moved around a lot following college, she finds it has been hard to maintain relationships with her high school friends. “When I go home to visit my family, I don’t have time to see my high school friends too. My reunion will be a great opportunity to revisit the past and reconnect with old friends.”
Bringing one’s spouse is always a question and Kagan’s husband will not be attending her reunion. Nor will the spouses of many of her friends. “They don’t want to go,” she says with conviction.
Goldstein adds that the reunion is much more enjoyable when she doesn’t have to worry about whether her husband is having fun, or trying to catch him up on the humor or references made during the evening.
Jon Parks, who grew up in Ruxton and now lives in Reisterstown, attended his 25th Park School Class of 1986 reunion in June. “Twenty-five years is a long time and we have all had so much living since high school,” he says. “It is reassuring to see your peers and learn where they are in their lives. I had a wonderful class full of interesting, kind, good people. And that has not changed. They are people I will always be able to count on.”
His spouse, a native of Pittsburgh, stays home. “My wife came with me once and that was enough for her. By not coming, she doesn’t have to suffer my reliving old times with my school friends.”
Although he feels that the turnout at his reunion was a bit disappointing, he recalls that there were classmates that came that he had not expected to see. Meanwhile, two of his classmates “Skyped” in from Los Angeles, as they could not attend in person. Also surprising to him was that “everybody looked great,” although he admits that people who generally attend reunions are, perhaps, a self-selecting group. If people are not happy in their particular stage of life, he believes they are less likely to attend.
Reflecting on the 20 years that has passed since her graduation from Pikesville High School, Rabinowitz says that, compared to the five-year reunion, she anticipates seeing in her classmates, “more change, more growth, more wisdom, more experience and that they will have more to say.”
“When you go to your reunion, you return to that period of your life,” adds David Harrison, Pikesville Class of 1986, who plans to attend his 25th reunion over Thanksgiving weekend in Timonium. “It is interesting to see how the people with whom you grew up have matured. At this point in our lives, we all have so many measures of success — whether it is financial success, professional success, personal success — I am happy to see us all doing well. At our age, we have a different sense of what is important and we are all going through it together.”
Facebook has added a new dimension to the reunion experience, notes Harrison. He enjoys seeing classmates wishing one another happy birthday when perhaps, back in high school, they may not have been friends. Although many classmates have reconnected through Facebook and social media, “there is still something different about seeing someone face-to-face.”
“Half the fun is seeing how everyone is faring at this stage of their lives,” says Polsky.
Meanwhile, Rabinowitz says she is looking forward to seeing the people who made a profound impact on her life. “We had a great class and a great community. I felt like no matter which group you were in, everyone was very supportive. I am looking forward to seeing everybody,” she says with great anticipation.