Class of 1968, What a Year!

Lee's class of 1968 returned to Springfield for its 50th reunion

Maryam Baig, Entertainment Editor

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Though it has been debated by historians, 1968 was one of the most influential years of the last century. So what was it like for seniors who graduated from Lee as a member of the class of 1968? Alumni from this class gathered recently for a 50th reunion and reflected on their experience.

Graduating back then wasn’t the same as today due to the major historical milestones that occurred in one year. Roxanne Edwards, who led the Lee reunion planning committee, reflected on significant historic events from her high school years in the late 60’s.

“Drugs were not yet that established so alcohol was the big taboo. The Vietnam War was ramping up.  The big events of our lives had been the Kennedy assassination while we were in middle school at Irving, and then the Martin Luther King assassination in April of our senior year. With the city [Washington, DC] in flames [due to race riots], our prom had to move from downtown out to Gaithersburg, Maryland as we could not find a place easily at the last minute. We graduated June 10, 1968 out into a world of today we could not even begin to imagine,” Edwards said.

Despite the chaos of the era, Edwards positively reflected on the education she and her classmates received at Lee. “It was quite a transformational time for all of us. Our teachers were mostly passionate about teaching and we got a good solid education that has stood the test of time. We have a lot of very successful folks who have lived great lives. The foundation of those years in academics, clubs, activities, sports and social times were memorable and built us into the group of friends we still are today. There were cliques and unsanctioned fraternities and sororities. Our class was not diverse at all racially. Most of our families fathers were either government or military and few moms worked.  We came from large families. Many of us had siblings in classes above and below us,” Edwards said.
The class of 1968 had its own unique still. “Guys had short hair and actually wore collared shirts and sometimes jackets and ties.  Girls wore skirts or dresses and hemlines were rigidly followed.  Our hair was a big deal,” Edwards said.

Imagine having to share a school with a rival school; well, that’s what the class of ‘68 did. “During our Junior year, we were split into two schools sharing the same building. This was because the new West Springfield HS building was completed construction in time for September start of school year.  Our class had to start classes at 7am, and during lunch, the West Springfield students arrived for some classes. When they went to lunch and finished, we shifted out of the school early while they stayed to around 4:30,” Edwards said.

Even 50 years after graduation, former Lee classmates from the class of 1968 came together in a reunion that was planned by former Lee students themselves.

According to Janet Travers, the treasure of the planning committee, the planning started with social media. “A few people start talking and things evolved. We created a Facebook page, but that didn’t reach everyone. We used that group however, for surveying and brainstorming and came up with the plan to make the main event a cruise on the Potomac out of Alexandria. One of our classmates, Colleen kern Hiltbruner, searched through a variety of finding people websites  and found a snail mail address for nearly everyone. Each committee member took on a job. We had one [member] reaching out to the school for a school tour and plans for attending the football game, one making Hotel arrangements, one making cruise and catering arrangements, one in charge of the happy hour arrangements,” Travers said.

Former students from all over the US came over to celebrate their old memories and meet up with past classmates. The reunion took place over three days, beginning at Springfield’s Hilton Hotel. They took a tour of Springfield to show those who had left the city the changes to their hometown. They even came to our football game, to support us as our alumni.

According to Janet Travers, the treasure of the committee, the reunion was successful. “Oh my, we were thrilled! Our graduating class had 287 in it. We had 42 deceased classmates, and the remaining are scattered all over the country. We had a 3-day event. We had a “big” reunion at 10, 20, and 25 years. Since then, happy hour-types every now and then. But we felt 50 was a big deal,” Travers said.

Before the main reunion event, they gathered for drinks at The Charterhouse in Old Town Alexandria. Then for the main event, they went on the Cherry Blossom Riverboat cruise in DC and had a great time getting to know their old classmates again while enjoying the beautiful view of the prized DC Cherry Blossom Festival. There was also an after party at Blackwall Hitch that was only a short walk away from the cruise to keep the night going.

The next morning, after a free breakfast provided by the Hilton Hotel, everyone was invited to the “Farewell Lunch” at Westlawn Inn in North Beach, Maryland to spend one more afternoon together before parting ways.

At the end of the day, it was a great reunion that everyone cherished and enjoyed. These special moments are important memories that stay with you for the rest of your life because you can close your eyes to reality, but not to memories, those stay with you forever.