High school reunions run the gamut from wholesome to depressing, and that's just including the ones that happen in person (opposed to drunken Facebook DMs).
If we're being honest with ourselves though, isn't it morbid curiosity and a potential for drama that draws most of us to the spectacle of reunions? Certainly, there are earnest connections to be made, but those are just as easily facilitated over the internet.
However, the emotional hailstorm of everyone from high school in one room is only available through reunions, and even then, there are people missing.
In a popular Ask Reddit thread, teachers and students shared the biggest transformations and saddest declines they've seen at high school reunions.
1. From Thunda792:
My grandpa invited his English teacher from high school to their 60th HS reunion. She was 97 at the time (101 now) and is sharp as a tack. She had a wonderful time seeing everyone and even remembered a good portion of her students, but did mention that it was disheartening to see students of hers who have died or are suffering from dementia.
2. From ljc12:
Half my grade didn’t event get invited to our 10-year. Seems just like the popular kids just invited themselves.
3. From BeautifulStick9:
I missed my 10 years reunion but I went to 15 years.
As some said, most people came to impress others. I don‘t care, I was there to see a guy I was friends with in school. He was a very intelligent dude, but clearly had a problem with authorities. When we got older, he worked as a chemist and also liked drugs. Back in the days, we used to smoke pot regularly but he found other friends and things for worse. Like cooking-meth-and-get-your-door kicked-in-weekly-by-cops-or-russians-worse. Last thing I heard, he went to jail for a couple of years.
When I met him at the reunion, he was also happy to see me. We talked almost the whole evening, it was great. What I liked the most, he found a wife when he got out of jail, she supported him to get rid of a heroin-addiction he "got" in jail and he‘s a proud father of two kids. Nice transformation.
4. From Ravenamore:
I was one of the valedictorians and got voted most likely to become president, I dated the same guy most of the way through high school and married him in college.
10 years down the way, I was divorced and on disability for mental illness. I was actually afraid to go to the reunion because things were TOTALLY different. I don't know why, but I seriously thought people would think bad of me for getting a divorce.
Our school did something interesting for the reunion. One part was a formal sit down dinner that cost something like $80. But another part was a free BBQ down at the local park. I went to the freebie. Everyone was pretty casual. Very few of the former popular crowd came - guess they just wanted to show off at the formal dinner.
Lots of other people there had been honors students and had also gotten a harsh smack in the face by life. Lots of the valedictorians and honors students failed out of college by sophomore year. I know a couple of them had gone through rehab. I was surprised to find I wasn't the only one who was mentally ill - we'd all apparently been REALLY good at hiding it in high school.
A lot of people got into fields no one would have pegged them for. The shyest girl worked as a pharma rep, scrawny dorky kid was now absolutely ripped and in the military. I'd been known as a writer and journalist, but I know several people were surprised to hear I'd primarily worked as a computer tech.
So I'd worked myself up for nothing. I was glad I went. I'm guessing the school didn't bother to do anything for 20th or 25th, or maybe the former popular kids decided having a free event again was gauche.
5. From livious1:
There was a kid in my high school who was, for lack of a better term, a huge f*ck up. Lots of drugs, really overweight, constantly getting suspended, getting in fights, trouble with the law, etc.
So I show up to my 10-year reunion, And there is this guy there that nobody recognizes. Tall, long hair, muscular, pretty good looking. It’s the same guy. Literally, none of us could picture him so he had to show us old photos on his phone. He told me that after high school he got a job cleaning pools, which “saved his life” according to him. It was really tough work which got him in shape, and helped him kick drugs and gave him a purpose. Eventually, he started his own pool cleaning business and has since expanded it enough that he makes fantastic money and doesn’t even work 40 hours a week, and it’s still growing.
It sounded like he had some demons to work through, but he literally went from being somebody we all kinda expected to spend his life in jail, to arguably being the best looking guy at the reunion, making more money than almost anyone there, and just having a huge turnaround. Probably the biggest talk of the night, and honestly, I think everyone was really impressed. I know I was. He deserved all the kudos he got.
6. From mPeachy:
I went to my 40th anniversary. Class of 300 seniors, around 100 showed up. It was surprising how the cliques from high school instantly re-emerged.
At 57, I was still in good shape, had all my hair, hardly any gray. That put me in a pretty small minority of the guys. Lots of bald guys with gray hair on the sides.
Some of the hottest girls from high school were not remotely good looking anymore, while some of the normal looking girls who were nice back then were still nice and were more beautiful than ever.
Some of the people would say stuff like “Oh, I’m retired now. Cashed in my stock from Blah buh dee dah.” Or, “I now just work part-time for the investment firm I started thirty years ago.” A few were hoping that old connections could help them find work.
I didn’t bring my wife or kids, but a few people did. Those who did seemed like they were doing it to say “I know you thought I’d never find a girl” but realistically they were probably thinking “Whatever, I haven’t thought about you even once since high school.”
I didn’t stay too long, but it was nice to see some people. I’d go back for the 50th if I make it to 67 and haven’t moved too far away.
7. From ArcTan_Pete:
I've only been to one School reunion - after about 15-20 years
We got in contact via 'friendsreunited' (if anyone remembers that) and I was chatting with a couple of people in the weeks leading up to the reunion
I was making jokes about seeing a girl - Carol - who everyone wanted to 'be friends' with. Making jokes about how she was a flirt and probably had been through a couple of husbands by now, when someone informed me that she had died of cancer at age 20
Once at the reunion, I asked 'whatever happened to Gary L'...Gary was a joker, he was friends with everyone and, somehow, able to fit in with all the different factions at school.
I was told that Good ol' Gary was in prison, on multiple counts of Possession of Child Porn.
8. From The_Sceptic_Lemur:
We just had our 20 year reunion a few months ago and it was honestly great. Most people showed up, plus a few of the teachers. We‘ve always been a relatively unpretentious bunch with everyone somewhat getting along. And it was still sort of like that. We all sort of clicked right away. And we basically had no unexpected transformations, neither positive nor negative. The ones who were expected to pick up a high rolling career did and the ones expected to surf along in the middle class did as well.
There were a few outliers (like the cool skateboarding bloke who wasn’t really good in school was now a medical doctor with family and kids). But all in all, it had all turned out more or less as expected. On paper that sounds horrifically boring. But in reality, it was incredibly nice to see everyone had made something of themselves and you‘d still get along, even after 20 years.
9. From plogsdon83:
10 year - trying to impress with wife a kid and fancy job.
20 year - 2nd wife 2nd round of kids, same or similar job.
30yr - trying to not be the largest person there.
40yr - just trying to outlive the other people.
Those that leap frog in a career - or are considered “Lucky” in life - rarely go to HS reunions. HS reunions are ridiculously full of drama and gossip.
10. From vikingzx:
I'll share an uplifting one. Not a teacher, btw. It was at my class ten-year reunion.
One of the people who showed up was, well, to put it bluntly, I had never thought much of them when graduation happened. They just kind of coasted through, had been a bully when they were younger, definitely didn't take class seriously (not that I ever saw) etc.
They didn't go on to be a CEO or something. Anyone can do that. No, instead they got married, found responsibility, and now had several kids. They were raising a family and trying to be a good parent and spouse. They'd found work they enjoyed and that paid well so they could support that family with a good life.
And then? They went up to people at that reunion who they recalled setting an example or giving them a template to build on and thanked them for it. Which left me dumbstruck. That takes humility and strength.
That is an epic transformation. From just someone who was there probably because they had to be to someone who'd found their being. I was really glad to hear they were doing so well, and see how much they'd changed.
I don't ever expect to come back at the 20 and see them running some giant company or anything. But I expect I'll respect them just as highly (probably a bit more, honestly).
11. From chocfrogaddict:
You wouldn't catch me dead at one of those things, but thanks to Facebook snooping (very carefully so I don't accidentally like photos or friend anyone) I have seen some interesting things. The prom king is still cool, the prom queen is some kind of big wig in the army and the quiet nice kid is a bodybuilder. The popular kids are keeping up with the Joneses types. Nothing impressive except lots of hair dye and Botox.
I hope someone snooped through mine to see that I still listen to Backstreet Boys and kept the two best friends I had back then. We took different paths but we're all still the same only older and smarter.
12. From CoronaFunTime:
Just giving my story of my 10-year reunion from 2 years ago.
One girl in high school had uncut hair to the floor, jean skirts, some religious thing. Her dad was an a*shole, and his girlfriend wore tight shirts and short skirts with spray-on tan and cheap blonde hair dye. Absolute definition of hypocritical a*shole parents. The son/brother was treated like a king and had absolutely no parenting - all while the girl and her two sisters were taught to do all the chores and take care of the dad/girlfriend/brother. She grew up to be a religious nutjob that went further down that rabbit hole and believe that blowing up abortion clinics is totally cool. She hasn't done it yet, but she's rather vocal about it. She sat next to everyone at some point in the reunion and tried to figure out what political affiliation everyone was to start fights.
One guy that never took anything seriously went to some branch of the military and got his life together. He's a car mechanic now and is a much nicer guy.
And then me...I was a quiet nerd girl and still am. Except I came into the parking lot on my motorcycle (which I had for a while but didn't think was a big deal) and everyone thought it was a huge deal that nerdy me rode motorcycles now. I have a cheap one and it wasn't hard to learn. Apparently being able to hold normal conversations (which I could do before) and riding a motorcycle was a "huge transformation". I think everyone thought I was somehow shy or weird when I was just quiet and didn't want to talk to them when I was a teenager. So having polite conversation from me blew their minds.
13. From SourMelissa:
All I know is I got super drunk with my favorite teacher at our 5-year reunion. She’s amazing. She’s a romance writer, not above a stupid prank, and a ton of fun. It’s not the only time we got drunk together. Seeing different a side to teachers is interesting as an adult.
14. From Notmyrealname:
My dad came to the US when he was ten and didn't speak a word of English. Ended up being class valedictorian and winning all twelve of the school's academic prizes, getting a full ride to Harvard, and becoming a professor. At his 50th high school reunion, a woman came up to my mom and angrily said "Everyone always talks about how your husband won all twelve prizes. But that's not true! My husband won one of them!"
Obviously, some hurts never go away.
15. From Littleb**ch0029:
My school has one every year for all classes, so sometimes parents and children will go together and sometimes even grandparents.
My one friend went and from what I've heard the only people there graduated before 95, none of the younger generations showed up save a few who were just curious to see what it is.
It's all Karens and 40 to 50-year-old men who pretend like they all graduated a few years ago. The same type of people who constantly brag about that one game where they won the season and talk about nothing else, and middle-aged suburban housewives trying to sell mlms while asking to speak to the coach of their son's little league team to get him more time on the field.
16. From LeadFarmerMothaF*cka:
Man...I showed up on a hit of acid and got swarmed with people because I looked the most casual and comfortable and I was the “free spirit” of the party. The teachers that were there I ended up having the best conversations with as well. Didn’t have a job at the time, helped out at a bar and ended up getting roped into bartending once the actual event was over. Everyone went to that bar. Ended up making like $400 in three hours while simultaneously being a really bad bartender lol.
17. From shawwnalorraine:
My high school has a class reunion once a month at court. I’m always there for traffic court. I like to drive too fast. But mostly every one from school is always there. It's always interesting to see what their in for next. Traffic, rape, murder mostly domestic abuse though.
I’m from Chicago. But for high school I went to a small town school in western Kentucky. Mostly meth heads there.