Class of 1988 Reflects on 25 Years Gone By

In the months leading up to the 25th reunion of the Class of 1988 in May 2013, members of the reunion committee wrote to their classmates, encouraging them to reconnect. Below is a selection of the missives.

Emi Bague Wieczorek
I wanted to share my “reunion story” with you as our N’88 25th is just around the corner. Once a week, from now until May 11, you’ll be hearing from one of us on the Reunion Committee about why we are going, why we’re on the planning committee, and why we hope everyone comes back. Personally, I have gone to nearly all of our 5-year-mark reunions and several in-between years for Reunion Weekends. It turns out that I’m sold out on reunions of all kinds, but especially for our Nobles ones. But why?

For those of you who knew me even a little bit during high school, I was pretty quiet. I found myself on the edges of social groups, not the best student, and (while I’m on a roll here), not known for involvement in sports. Not many knew that after I had sprained my ankle in the fall of sophomore year, I could no longer play field hockey and thus took on team management (Varsity Boys Wrestling for three seasons and Varsity Boys Soccer for two!), community service, independent art, music, and theater. Always involved, but always low key. Graduation itself was bittersweet. I had friends in several classes, older and younger, during my time at Nobles, but just a (precious) few in own class. So, what drew me back to our class-specific reunions? It would seem like “not much”.

However, in the spring of 1993, that changed. I had received the traditional announcements and invitations in the mail for our upcoming 5th reunion, as well as calls for the Nobles Fund. I hesitated big time. I had not gone back much, if at all, in the years since our Class Day. I was at BU on Commonwealth Ave., standing at a B-Line T-stop. I knew that our 5th reunion pre-party (Friday night gathering) was going to take place at The Black Rose at Faneuil Hall. I deliberated at that T-stop. Should I? Who would be there? What would we talk about? Am I going to feel as outcasted as I had during high school? Am I going to regret it? Eventually, the T came and the doors opened not two feet away from me. I figured, What the heck? It’s once in a lifetime! and climbed aboard.

The rest is history. I’ve had a wonderful time at each gathering of our class and with other Nobles grads in the in-between years. I’ve also been able to meet spouses of our classmates, and enjoy watching our kids interact at reunion events designed for them. We’ve allowed our lives to connect by sharing both life’s hardships and successes, in the realms of family, work, health, hobbies, adventures, etc. I have always felt warmly received and have in turn welcomed others. I’ve enjoyed talking to classmates whom I barely spoke a word to during our years together at Nobles. I’ve also been able to reconnect with favorite teachers, who invested and shepherded me in ways I didn’t see then, but that I truly appreciate now 25 years later as I guide my own children. These reunions have been opportunities to both enjoy old friends as well as to make new ones, to reflect on and be thankful for things gained at Nobles, and enjoy the company of those who walked the halls with us and experienced what only we share, and that is being N’88.

Because my experience at our reunions has been so positive, I decided to engage in a way I hadn’t before, which was to join the planning committee. I’m glad I did! Together we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on May 11. If you’re still on the fence, it’s time to hop off it and just come! I personally look forward to welcoming each of you. It’s going to be a great time. Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I would love to hear from you.

Meredith Johnson
Life Happens.
We are frequently faced with situations and can do nothing about them but sometimes we have the pleasure of making choices. Chose Reunion and you’ll be surprised of the impact it will make on you and our classmates.

So selfishly I want everyone to come to Reunion and even though I realize that it is highly improbable. Just for a moment, I want to live in a surreal world where we could just dial everyone in from near or far and catch up. My hunch is that there are so many facets of each of us that are greatly unknown and I would like to have the time to unpeel some of it. I feel like this is a chance.

Recently, I have missed several chances like talking with Luby Coggeshall or G.K. Bird or Kim Smith but luckily have had wonderful others. I saw Pippy O’Connor last week and had lunch with Amy Freedman the week before. They were delightful.

Delightfully, there is NO work to do. There is no dinner to plan. Nobles has already done that and our reunion committee has great events lined up. All we need to do as classmates is to show up. We were a great class. We are a great class. I hope you realize how many people want to see you and converse with you.

Several classmates have written great pleas or stories before me and there will be several after me. Hopefully for those of you on the fence, perhaps one of these vignettes will hit a chord and encourage you to come. For those coming, I cannot wait to see you.

Todd Bourell

I have nothing particularly profound to offer with respect to my motivation for attending our 25th reunion.
Since I now live about 4 miles from the Nobles campus, I have no excuse not to attend. And I live even closer to Dave Gerber’s place, so I suppose I’ll be showing up there on Friday night as well. Furthermore, George Cadwalader and his family will be staying with us over the reunion weekend. So in the event that I was simply to forget that our reunion was taking place, George’s arrival in my driveway would be a convenient reminder.

I also must admit that the increasingly rare occurrence of an open bar is no small enticement. On the other hand, if I average my already-paid class gift pledge over the beverages I consume during the course of the evening, these could well be the most expensive drinks I’ve ever had. I shall therefore seek aggressively to work down my average per-drink “pledge” over the course of the evening.

In all seriousness, I will attend the reunion simply because I greatly enjoy my frequent encounters (some planned and many others unplanned) with our classmates. Here is a sampling just from the past year:

• Seeing Lee Wexler at our 20th college reunion last year. I was so pleased to see Lee I asked if I could give him a hug. He consented.
• On the same day, Therese Flynn, her excellent husband and their 3 rambunctious sons managed to make it to our place for burgers.
• Frequent encounters with the Cadwalader family. George’s twin sons and my oldest, 2 weeks apart in age, have become partners-in-crime over the years.
• An extremely well-dressed (wasn’t he always?) Geoff O’Malley stopped by my office earlier this year in the course of one of his visits to Boston.
• And last but not least . . . I was exiting Symphony Hall in Boston this past December and passed a distinguished looking gentleman. He and I both did an “I know that guy” double-take. In a split-second I found myself wondering if was appropriate to address someone as “Beast!” in front of his wife and two daughters, neither of whom I’d ever met. I concluded it was not. But I did manage to blurt out “Keith” a second later. (Dr. Robinson and family had come down from Maine for the Pops Christmas concert.)

In short, given how enjoyable all of these encounters have been, I cannot pass up the opportunity for more.

Curt Stevenson
I liked public school in the early 1980′s. I got pretty much all A’s until about 6th grade, then I became a classic underachiever starting in middle school. My parent were getting frustrated. “Let’s go look at some private schools”. Whatever (re-read that in a really apathetic 13 year old boy’s voice). OK. I looked at two – Roxbury Latin (I knew a couple older kids from my summer job who went there – they weren’t so bad) and Nobles (the tour was pretty cool, as was my half-day with Rick Bates, and the lunch in the Castle was wicked pissah compared to my middle school cafeteria – all the rolls I can eat?). But still – whatever – I was in 8th grade with my best friends in the world and wasn’t really too excited about leaving them. But – out of respect for my parents, I applied. I got rejected from RL and wait-listed at Nobles. Whatever – I get to go to Needham High with my friends now…but I would miss that whole lunch in the Castle.

So – summer of ’84 went on. I worked cleaning pools, mowed a bunch of lawns, and eventually started my first day of cross-country practice at Needham High School, the day before classes were supposed to start. I got home that first day after practice and my mom said, “Ned Bigelow from Nobles called. You got accepted off the wait list. How would you like another week of summer vacation?” Sweet. Another week of vacation. Maybe this private school thing would work out OK.

Regardless of how twisted my thought process was that landed me at Nobles at the very last minute, I think a lot about how my life might have been (or in some cases, would have been) different if I hadn’t been so fortunate to get that call:
• I would probably still think that squash was just a vegetable, not a great sport that I learned at Nobles and still play 29 years later
• I might not have gotten involved in a cappella music, which was an important part of my life at college and beyond (I probably would still have done chorus/glee club, as I was a Gleek even in middle school – way before it was cool)
• I might not have developed a love for acting
• I probably wouldn’t have played lacrosse (Thank you Nobles for mandating a sport every season) – a sport that I picked up again five years ago through the Nobles Alumni game and still play now at age 43 with some of my Nobles friends who convinced me that it would still be fun (and John Hauck – you were right)
• I probably wouldn’t have ended up at Colby, which also had a huge impact on my life
• I might not understand words like egregious, myriad, plethora, or disingenuous
• I might not have started my own business. This might be a stretch, but I think a lot of my teachers and coaches at Nobles helped me to find a self-confidence that encouraged and enabled me to take calculated risks
• I wouldn’t have met the woman (the girl at the time), who I have been very happily married to for 18 1/2 years
• I wouldn’t have made some of the best friends in the world – who I can still count on today to be there if I need anything, and they know the same about me.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at reunion.

Paola Buchbinder Cross

I hope all is well and look forward to seeing you at our 25th Reunion on May 11th! When I signed up to be on the reunion committee, I promised I would help with whatever it takes to have the best reunion yet! In my opinion, the only way to do this is to have a great turnout! So, here are my reasons as to why I am going back and hopefully it will remind you why you should come back too:
-Friends: Nobles was such a special part of my life- I have such fond memories- it’s so much fun to think of all of them!!!! Some of my dearest friends then are my dearest friends now and that is priceless. We all hold a special bond to each other, at least a couple of times a year I bump into a fellow Nobles grad and there is an instant connection. It doesn’t matter if we were close friends or not, the bond is still there and it’s so much fun to catch up and see what everyone has been up to!
-Teachers: there are so many teachers that made a positive impact on my life: from Dick Flood to Nick Marinaro to Fred Sculco to Mr. Freedman (and many others) – what incredible people we had teaching, inspiring and pushing us to our limits. I have such an appreciation for what they did for us-especially now that I have kids! I am so looking forward to seeing some of them.
-New Beautiful Campus: I got a glimpse at our first committee meeting and oh my gosh- it’s nicer than any other school that I have seen. It will be such a treat to have dinner in the new, gorgeous Nobles castle!
-Feeling Young Again: I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it has been 25 years since we graduated! Maybe going back to campus and seeing everyone will bring us back to those days and, for a few hours, we can really feel young again :)
-Family: I would love to show off our school to my husband and kids that hear so much about my Nobles years.

I am so excited to return to Nobles for our 25th Reunion — I truly hope to see many of you there. Time has passed, things have changed but one thing we all have in common is our Nobles roots and that is something to come out and celebrate. Don’t wait until our 50th to come back- then we will really be old;) Come and make new memories- you won’t regret it! I look forward to seeing you in a couple of months!

George Cadwalader, Jr.
It’s my turn to join the chorus of voices encouraging you to come to our 25th reunion on 11 May 2013. In the quarter century since we graduated, I have grown to appreciate Nobles and what I learned there more every year. I am sure we all remember certain teachers who made an impact on our lives. Since I have you as a captive audience, I will share some of my own memories.
-Rev. Gleason, Mr. Baker, and Mr. Flood were exceptional role models of leadership.
-Dr. V.P. O’Brien and Mr. Paine inculcated me with a love of history (and I can still clearly hear Dr. O’Brien saying “Cadwalader, open the window so I can see the wind blow through those little stalks of hair” following an unfortunate haircut).
-Mr. Coggeshall and Mr. Mansfield opened the doors to great literature (and I am now reminded of Mr. Mansfield’s remark to an unruly classroom that “youth is too good to be wasted on the young.”)
-Mrs. Fiechter and Mr. Sculco were exemplars of patience, kindness, and wisdom as my advisors.
-Mr. Toubman, Mr. Marinaro, Mr. Wood, and Mr. Lyman taught me about sportsmanship, fitness, and hard work. Their coaching and mentorship, even for those of us who were not destined for athletic greatness, underscored their commitment to a well-rounded education predicated on healthy mind and body.
-The faculty members who served as “in loco parentis” for the boarding department made the Castle feel like home, a feeling I have carried to this day.

All of these lessons have served me well and I am deeply indebted to those who provided them. More importantly, the friends I made at Nobles, even those who I have fallen out of touch with since graduation, have added immeasurably to my life. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to spend my high school years surrounded by Nobles and all of its majesty.

At any rate, that’s why I am going back for reunion. The other reason is it sounds like it will be a great party. And – at our age – there aren’t many of those left.

I join the 25th Reunion Committee in expressing my hopes that you will come back to Dedham this May.

Dave Aznavorian
In search of an elusive celery kernel, I once single-handedly devoured 37 lukewarm Castle rolls.

On more than one occasion, Dick Baker’s gone out of his way to approach ME, seeking advice on syntax and grammar.
Out of sheer boredom, I’ve body-surfed the Class of ’57 staircase from the Nobles upper campus down to the gym. (Backwards.)

Okay, so does any of this sound familiar?
I mean, haven’t we all had similar experiences since we left Nobles in June 1988???

The truth is – in spite of several days when I aspire to be – my life in no way resembles that of the highly publicized “most interesting man in the world”.

In fact, I’ve done none of these things since our days at Nobles.

Still, I have some great memories of Nobles friends, feel a true sense of loyalty and appreciation for everything Nobles offered me while I was there, and – to this day – value the depth and breadth of the Nobles community as it’s evolved to become more expansive and welcoming over time.

These are the real reasons why I’m part of our Reunion planning committee and why I’m planning to be there for our 25th, May 10th – 12th.
(*That, and what’s shaping up to be a memorable Saturday night of entertainment just ahead of our class dinner …*)

Hopefully any of you unsure about coming back will try and make it.

It’d really be great to have everyone together again.

Oh … and you won’t have to look far to find me.

I’ve attached my pic: I still have black hair, glasses and deal with vertical challenges.
And – as I vie to become the “most interesting man in the world” – I’ll be the guy holding the bottle of Dos Equis.

Missy Daniels Madden

It is my turn to tell you why I am coming back to Nobles for the 25th. First, it is nerve wracking to go to these things after so many years, regardless of what your high school experience was like for you. Let’s face it: high school years are hard! Friendships, hormones, bodily changes, pressures on you, etc. I found it almost a relief it some ways to get to college. But now all of that is behind us! And at the last reunion, I really enjoyed chatting with a few people who I was not as close with in high school. We either had more in common now or thought we did. That was really fun. Secondly, Nobles is a really special place that I don’t think I appreciated until after I left. I really took for granted the great teachers, quality learning, tight knit community and incredible campus. It was simply where I went to school. I have come to really appreciate it as I have gotten older and looked for quality education for my own children. I was so fortunate -and didn’t work quite as hard as I should have.

Furthermore, I am blessed to be a part of the reunion committee this year and connecting to this group as a starting point is getting me excited to see all of you. Yes, we are way older than I would like. I really feel like Nobles was a second ago. But, if I have to get older, I might as well share it with you! So even if there is one person you want to see or one teacher, it is worth it! If there is no one, the castle is AMAZING to see!!!!

Steve Spengler
 I hope this email finds you all well!  It is my turn to share a bit of why I am involved with our 25th Reunion.  For me, it is pretty simple.  My Nobles experience was and is about the people I went there with.  I was a decent student and loved playing soccer, but it was my class mates and team mates that made both endeavors important.  This is probably why I was only a decent student!  I knew how lucky I was to be going to Nobles with all of its opportunities, but it was participating in these opportunities with you that made them so rewarding.
I am fortunate to still see some of you occasionally.  I even go to the Alumni soccer game against Milton to see some more of you.  I wanted to be involved with the 25th Reunion Committee, it was a no brainer.  It was a scheduled time to see a group of you and plan the Reunion, an event where I get to see even more of you!  I am very much looking forward to seeing all of you and reminiscing about 25 years ago.  I am also looking forward to seeing who you all are today and reconnecting with you.  Please come to the Reunion if you can.  It will be a great event made by the people who attend!

Craig Pfannenstiehl
Why am I going to reunion? I don’t know. Why not? I always get excited when I go to campus – I get that touch of nostalgia for great days gone by. I envy the students who go there now and the resources they have to be successful leaders of tomorrow. Blah, blah, blah. No, really. I’m going to reunion to connect with old friends. The chance you get every five years to say hello and reminisce. The chance you get to leave after a couple days and realize that the people we went to school are good people – people we should keep in touch with, but don’t (very well) because we are all too busy. It’s that simple. I want to re-connect with classmates, teachers and coaches. I want to pause my life for a few hours and go back in time. Then, its back to the same running around and craziness that makes each one of our lives great. But, to not go to reunion is to miss the opportunity that only comes around every half-decade. With that said, I urge you to make plans – pause your craziness and make the commitment to go and re-connect. You won’t regret it.

John Hauck
I am writing this 100% un-solicited message after reading some of the emails from our classmates. I thought I would add a different perspective to the same message on why you should come back to our 25th reunion. Let me begin by admitting the passing of time that I currently have a child attending Nobles. I can safely say both my experiences as a student and now as a parent have contributed to my perspective.

As a student, my experience at Nobles was a bit different than most of you and was a mixed one. I enrolled as a sophomore and did not have those early and important relationships built in middle school or as a freshman. I do feel fortunate that I was able to build and maintain some good relationships with some of our classmates over the last 25 years.

As a parent, the Nobles middle school is a wonderful place, my daughter loves it. Every night it’s, “I did this”, “we did that”, she just walked into my office this past Monday beaming with pride about her most recent report card. My daughter has given me an appreciation and a new perspective on Nobles I am not sure I would have ever found on my own.

So here it is, I am returning for our 25th reunion because of this “enhanced” perspective. As Paola said, we will always have a connection as graduates of the class of 1988. For me, there were a lot of good people I did not get to or take the opportunity to know. So if you are on the fence about coming, I hope you will. I have some gray hair now and as I get older I very much appreciate my relationships both old and new.

I look forward to seeing you in May.
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