My 40-year high school reunion 58



View Profile

In 1970, when I was 15, I left school. An all-girl, Victorian Catholic Ladies convent and training centre for the Brigidine Order of Nuns. The ABC mini-series “Brides of Christ” depicted it perfectly.

During my time at school, many wide-reaching changes were being felt around the world. The Cold War, Women’s Lib, changes in the Catholic Church, birth control, the Beatles, drugs, the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement, moratoriums. Presidents, senators and community leaders were being assassinated. These times are now assimilated into our ‘bygone days’; however they are, on reflection, the formation of who I am and how I view the world.

I didn’t keep in touch with any of my classmates after 1970, and then, without much thought, in 1975 I moved away from friends and family and hopped The Overland and rode it interstate to South Australia.

Decades later and with the advent of Facebook’s new developments; Pages, the inevitable happened.

A past pupil created a site in honour of the old – and unfortunately since demolished – convent and before long, names started popping up constantly. Some were names I hadn’t thought of in 40 years.

When again the inevitable happened: the reunion.

Many of my fellow classmates had stayed in touch and were aware of each other’s survival through the teen years, married life, birth of children, divorce and/or separation and their personal reinventions.

I, however, was totally unaware of anything except for a couple of woman I had connected with through the page. They were able to provide a rush of updates.

One of these women, competently and efficiently organised a reunion. Although the convent had been demolished to make way for apartments, a small section of the grounds had been preserved by the Brigidine Order and now serves as a function room and historical centre.

There, we met.

An overwhelming flood of emotions hit me as I entered the room. I was looking at faces, remembering smiles, admiring hair, listening to familiar voices and trying to remember anecdotes and names that were flying around the room.

Precious photos of grandchildren and holiday snaps were passed around and admired. Stories of trials and tribulations were graciously shared and serious and passionate conversations about careers and business ventures were respected and congratulated. Fond memories of one, who had left us, were honoured and remembered.

For the couple of hours the function room was booked, a deluge of memories swamped me. I hadn’t experienced anything like that in my whole life.

Since leaving Victoria in 1975, for the first time, I felt validated, connected.

I could attach my childhood to something.

Something tangible.

It was these women who knew me back then and could verify to the world I really did exist. No one in South Australia could do that.

The time passed so quickly and many didn’t want the day to end. So a dinner was hastily arranged to keep the enjoyment of each other’s company going for just that little bit longer.

15 of us, who were free that evening, along with the addition of a few husbands who had been patiently waiting, invaded a small cafe nearby, where the reunion became ‘dinner with friends’.

Since the reunion, we have lost another classmate. I am so grateful I was able to see her once more before her time ended.

Many of those I reconnected with I have stayed in touch with, thanks to Mr Zuckerberg and his vision of connecting the world.

Now we are all 60 and entering a new phase of our lives.

Childhood and teenage friendships made during the swinging 60s and early 70s when global changes were underway, helped forge a deep-rooted connection that survived forty years without contact.

Will our children and grandchildren be able to say the same – or will our ever-connected world mean they will never lose touch?

Colleen Palmer

Counsellor Wife, Mother of 2 girls, grandmother of 3 girls Born in Melbourne, moved to South Australia at 19 Travelled extensively through the USA Worked in various clerical office settings Studies in the Mental Health and professional counselling field Worked with families and young people Enjoy quilting, musical and theatrical entertainment and ....trash TV

  1. Brides of Christmas was a good series this is the sort of entertainment l would like to see on our screens at home and not all this American fubbish

  2. I agree with you Margaret. Very little worth watching on TV or the movies these days.

  3. I thought that I recognised that building. I went to the sister school along the beach road … A much tinier school. They are always find memories of those days. I almost joined the Brigidines back in 1962

  4. We had our 50 year reunion in 2010 & I met up with a lot of old school mates some of which I had not seen for over 40 years.

  5. Just been to our 60th school anniversary / reunion … It was a moving time to see people from all years get together .

  6. Went back to my school reunion and can’t believe it is almost 25 years ago….. The next one…. 100 years of the school is in 2017…. Can’t wait.

    1 REPLY
    • It’s amazing that schools are celebrating such milestones like 100 and 150 years. There would be some amazing history. Have fun …

  7. Sadly, my school doesn’t exist anymore, and other than one friend, I have lost contact with all my classmates. There has never been a reunion – sadly. It was 50 years ago and I doubt that many of them are still around.

    3 REPLY
    • I feel for you Lorraine. I use to feel sad about losing contact with my school friends too prior to the Facebook Page. I’m sure the old ways of reconnecting long lost classmates could have still happened without the intervention of Facebook, it just made it easier. I feel so much more connected to my childhood now but I do hope that maybe one day you’ll find some of those you went to school with…best wishes

    • Thanks Colleen, I did in fact find my very best friend from when I was 13/14 and till I left school. And we keep in contact now. It’s great. We’ve even visited – they’re only 2 hours away even though we went to school in Sydney and now live in Qld….thanks heaps for caring.

    • Hi Lorraine
      I’m off to the 50th reunion of my classmates in August. to our positive knowledge only 8 of our classmates are deceased, although there may be more among those we have been unable to contact. It can be difficult to re-establish contact with women because so many of us change our names on marriage, however, we found many on facebook and this started the domino effect. I even contacted 2 women via the sister of one who is a journalist. I’d be happy to give you some pointers if you want to try to set up a reunion.

  8. Thanks for this tale of your 40 th. A fellow school mate and I with some footwork and support from a mob that gathered on Facebook did the same. It’s hard to track women so many years later cos of name changes. Our gathering was so full of oops and Saabs and surprise that we just hugged and hugged and felt an overwhelming joy of connectedness. For several years we had shared a space and time and 40 years later we repeated that. An awesome experience. Only the joy prevailed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *