by Gale Finlayson

Well, we surely have come a long way. Baby! Do you remember John Jay, as we were entering 7th grade--the first class to complete all 6 years on a new site? Oh, attending junior high was a big deal, all right, but having a huge campus to explore and conquer made our first 7 years in elementary school really seem like kid stuff! Weren't we ever the hot shots? The physical plant was still in the process of being built even that week: carpenters were putting handles on doors; workers were still paving some walkways. So much chaos which we accommodated easily.

Of course we privately looked down our noses at those poor kids who had to attend prison-style architectural institutions like Fox Lane and Horace Greeley (boo, hiss)! Do you recall our first Assembly that day, when the entire school was herded into the gym for the endless, inevitable announcements? I remember being scandalized when Hazzie referred to the lunch schedule as two FEEDING PERIODS! What an insult to our intelligence and our egos! What did he consider us, anyway: pigs or alien life forms? Little did he suspect what our legacy would be.

Some years ago when I was living a quarter century of self-imposed exile in California, I was surprised but delighted to hear that SAT scores nationwide peaked in 1962; for after that year the scores began to slip. To what was that phenomenon due? Surely our wonderful faculty may preen with justifiable pride, but nationwide, what could have caused Our class to score higher than any previous or subsequent class? (I know--the sour-grapers will insist that SAT tests became that much harder) but We know the truth! AFTER US, IT WAS ALL DOWNHILL!!! :0)

After the first planning session in Danbury, I began thinking about reunions in general. Why do classes persist in holding them? Why do people feel compelled (or inspired) to put their regular life on hold, rearrange vacations, etc, to meet with people they have not seen or thought of in decades? Did you ever see that wonderful movie, "Peggy Sue Got Married," with Kathleen Turner and Nicholas Cage? Peggy Sue was attending her high school reunion, but her marriage was on the rocks; she truly regretted having married her high school sweetheart. After being recrowned the Prom Queen, she was donating blood when she fell unconscious. When she awoke, she was back in her high school as a senior.

Suddenly she realized that she had been given a fantastic opportunity to relive her life, to remake critical choices. She was no longer locked into the path she had made on her 18th birthday. Her jerk of a husband was now at serious risk, due to two other young men whom she had admired: a studious nerd and an iconoclastic poet, both of whom idolized her. Could she really rewrite her own history? Did you ever wish you could go back in time, to a Senior Prom, and enjoy the last dance with someone else, perhaps even going home with him or her? What would You change about your last dance at John Jay, if you could? Would you make better decisions now, with hindsight? Or were you wise despite your youth? (Don't worry--these are just rhetorical questions for you to ponder in the privacy of your own mind.)

Yes, the idea of a reunion began to intrigue me. I had heard that at earlier reunions (10th, 20th, 25th) that adults still want to show off their success or figures, prove their attractiveness and bask in continued glory. But from the 35th anniversary on, graduates were more mellow, tolerant and appreciative of each other. Do we all want to be remembered exactly the way we were? Are we trapped into a teenage mindset with no room for maturity? Are our reputations etched in granite, or are we permitted to grow, mature and bloom?

So why Does the class of 62 stand out in our teachers' minds? What made us so special and memorable? Why do we thrill to the purple and white colors after 40 years? Why do high school memories occupy a special place in our hearts? I think it might be because we finally recognize that we are all children of John Jay--no need for DNA testing here! We are members of a privileged Family, enjoying opening the dusty scrap book of our common memories. It didn't matter which elementary school we had attended, for after 2 weeks we were fully blended into a loyal student body. Despite the vast distances which separate us in our present locations, we are all proud of our school heritage.

Bill Speare in 9th grade Science called the Honors class "The Einstein Hour." He smirked when he said that, but I like to think that he was right on. Our pooled memories of classroom experiences, dances, sports events, musical and dramatic presentations can not be shared by any other school. All together they provided our common high school heritage and it was very good to share our confessions and our gratitude. So I feel that we really Are a family, and should support each other. That We can accept each other better now and cheer each other on.

Forty years ago we were standing on the threshold of adventure and promise--full of dreams of conquering the adult world and making positive contributions to society. You may have thought of me as the girl with the Brains, though I feel that Joanne truly deserved that distinction. I hope you will continue to take sentimental stock of the legacy of having graduated from John Jay. Let us cherish each other collectively--even as we honored our faculty--and take pride in belonging to the same family. We should always be Comfortable with each other, for the John Jay campus was our home--where they always have to let you in. If you happen to think of me in the next 5 years, when we are scheduled for our 45th reunion, I hope you will think of me as the girl with the Heart, for WE ARE FAMILY and I love you.

I want to conclude with a new motto for you to practice, a new philosophy to embrace--if you dare. My own sons would be scandalized if they knew the wild and daring risks I have taken. I would love to Shock them out of their pompous composure that Mom is over the hill. They think that life is made for the Young; did We ever warn each other not to trust anyone over 35? Listen up! I challenge you all to be bold and try something new--stun the younger generation into respecting us by Trying new activities and embracing new ideas! Don't let them think of us as has-beens! For my new motto is simply: WHY SHOULD KIDS HAVE ALL THE FUN! I sincerely thank you for reading this.

Your 1962 Valedictorian