If I were able to attend my upcoming 10-year reunion and was asked to give a speech for some reason, I think this is a close approximation of what I would say. Blame the insomnia…
Classmates, Friends, Teachers and other guests:
Welcome Hunter High School Class of 1999 to our ten-year reunion. It may be cliche, but has it really been ten years? The calendar says so, but sometimes it only feels like a few years.
For those of you that may not know me, my name is Robert Eberhard. In my high school days, I went by the name Bobby, so this may be how many of you know me. I am sad to admit that I only really knew about a quarter of our graduating class personally, and there are even fewer people that I keep in regular contact with. I am often amazed when Facebook or their ilk recommend people as friends, claiming that I went to Hunter High School with them. Weird. I was not what they consider “popular,” as stupid as high school classifications can be sometimes. I was in the band and did debate, took some AP classes, and just made may way through school. I personally cannot remember anything that I did that was truly amazing or memorable. But this is probably the same story that most of us can tell.
A few of you I met for the first time in Ms. Connelly’s kindergarten class at Whittier Elementary in the fall of 1986. Some we crossed paths for the first time later in elementary school, or met for the first time at Hunter Junior High in 1993. As for everyone else, we most likely met in the melting pot that was Hunter High School as we came in from Hunter Junior, West Lake, Kennedy, and other schools in 1996. But we all share one thing: in June 1999, we walked across the stage at the “E” Center, received our diplomas, and set off to bring change to the world.
A lot has happened in the world since we left high school. In the first presidential election that we were able to participate in, George W. Bush was elected in a historical election because of some hanging chads. Ten months after that, the world as we knew it changed because of an attack on American soil. Could you imagine watching 9/11 unfold on Channel 1 as we waited to go to lunch? That would have been surreal. Our young adult lives have all seen the ups and downs of the national economy, as well as a two-front war that some of our classmates have participated in as members of the Armed Forces. Our generation was also important in bringing “Change” to America in the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African-American president.
Now I’m sure every group of similarly situated individuals have the same thoughts of their first ten years out of high school. But it is important to many of us because we lived it, and many of us have families and will share these experiences with your children some day, when they ask where you were when 9/11 happened, similar to how previous generations were asked about the Kennedy assassination or the moon landing.
Our class has also widely dispersed, as people tend to do as the years beyond high school pass. Some have been gone for 10 years, others may live just down the street. But for those of us who have moved away, I am sure that I am not alone in saying that Utah is still my home.
If these ten years have taught me anything, it is that high school was something that shouldn’t define who you are in life; it is merely a starting point. It lays a strong foundation, true, but we should no longer look back to our high school days with bitterness or any other negative emotions. We cannot change the past, nor can we relive it. I’m sure everyone has a few things that happened from our first day at Hunter High in 1996 to our last in 1999 that they wish they could change: the missed opportunities, the unexplored crushes, the time wasted building Star Wars Legos in AP Physics. If anything, they simply create that life experience that taught us something for our future life. And I think we have all got to where we are now because of this.
So, as we move into our second decade removed from Hunter High School, and move on to even bigger and better things, it is okay to think fondly of the experiences that we shared. It is okay to maintain friendships, or even renew some that have fallen to the wayside. We will always have a part of us that are Wolverines, and we will always be the Class of 1999. Nothing we do will ever take that away.
Thank you for giving me the chance to say something here as we gathered as once and former classmates. Good luck to everyone in all their future endeavors. Hopefully, we will be able to meet up again as a large group 10-15 years from now and do this all over again.
I wish I could be there this time…