I’ve had the good fortune to be working on the MCHS ’60s Reunion for the past couple of years. I enjoy the work.
In organizing of the reunion, many alumni from cities across North America have worked together, to take the idea and turn it into a reality.
We have a great team in place and that’s made all the difference. The team members include Scott Munro, whom I’ve been meeting once or twice a year for lunch in Toronto for close to 20 years, and Peter Mearns, with whom I’ve been in touch for over a decade.
A couple of years ago, the three of us, along with Howard Eisenberg, whom I’ve been in touch with off and on for 40 years, met for lunch in Toronto and resolved to go ahead and stage a ’60s reunion.
Howard Eisenberg was busy with his work but Scott, Peter, and I formed a core group and we got the process underway. I began by writing posts about the reunion at the Preserved Stories website.
Howard Hight of Boston, Diana McLagan Redden of Vancouver, Lynn Hennebury Legge of London
Among the first people to contact us with offers of help was Howard Hight in Boston, who began to work on a Database so we could keep track of alumni names and contact details. It was pretty soon clear that he could use some help, and at that point Diana Redden in Vancouver stepped forward to work with Howard – both on a Database, and a Newsletter, which would serve as our primary source of updates about the planning process.
At an early stage, Peter Mearns let us know that we absolutely had to get Lynn Hennebury Legge involved with the planning. Lynn lives in London while Jaan, Scott, and Peter live in the Greater Toronto Area. We chose Kitchener as the venue for our Event Committee meetings, as the city is half-way between London and Toronto. In that way Lynn wouldn’t have to drive to Toronto, and the rest of us wouldn’t have to drive to London.
Lynn has played a key role in helping us with the reunion. She has strong networking skills, has ensured for us (in her all-important role as budget person) that the reunion is on a strong and stable financial footing, and she has also introduced the concept of the Business Card Game which she has organized for other events, with the City of London Chamber of Commerce, during a thirty-year career in corporate sales.
As well, once we began meeting in Kitchener, we made a point of letting people know that other alumni were most welcome to join us at our meetings. Gina Davis Cayer of St. Williams, Ontario took us up on the offer. She joined us at our organizing meetings, and has along with Lynn played a key role in networking and has also lined up a D.J. for the event, along with two playlists. One is a playlist for the dance portion of the reunion, and the other is a list of songs for quiet background music, at a low volume, during the mix-and-mingle, buffet portion of the reunion.
Many other volunteers helping with the reunion
We are all volunteers.
Many other volunteers have been helping us out in a wide range of ways; they too have played a key role in moving the project forward. By way of example, Klaas Vander Baaren has been scanning MCHS yearbooks. The resulting PDF files will be on a DVD that is included in the grab-bag for each attendee at the reunion. The grab-bag concept came from that source of so many great ideas, namely Lynn Hennebury Legge. She is also involved with gathering together the many prizes (as for example, for the Spot Dance) that will, we know, serve as a major highlight of the event for all the lucky winners!
As well, Nancy Renz has arranged, at her own expense, for the creation of patches, featuring the MCHS school crest; these will also be included in the grab-bag. Gerry Garnett and Diana Kouri have also been helping with the scanning.
In addition, we’ve had several meetings of a local, Toronto-based Entertainment Subcommittee, consisting of Barbara Sayfy, Heather Anne Liddell, Noreen McMillan, and Mary Lynne Dewhurst. We haven’t had many subcommittee meetings, after the initial ones, because several of us have had major responsibilities, closer to home, that have required sustained attention. That said, as an organizer, I have found the early subcommittee meetings very helpful in organizing my thinking regarding many of the details that we need to think about, during the day of the reunion.
There are other volunteers, who have helped us in a wide range of other ways. I have only referred to ones that I remember, off the top of my head, without going through my available notes and documents, of which there are a few. To all of of the reunion volunteers, we owe you many thanks!
As well, we have benefitted tremendously from feedback and comments from MCHS grads as the planning has proceeded. By way of example, we have set up a separate area at the Preserved Stories website, accessible at a separate domain name – that is, MCHS2015.com – dedicated to the reunion. We set this up directly as a result of suggestions that it would be handy, for people seeking details, to have such a site in place.
In speaking with an MCHS alumna who had been involved with one of the many other MCHS reunions and get-togethers over the years, we also learned that it would be a great idea to have a display panel, at the reunion, where the names of students and teachers who have passed away would be listed. As soon as we heard that suggestion, we were aware that, for sure, such a display would be important to have at the MCHS ’60s Reunion.
Business Card Game
My own key interest, as an event organizer, is to ensure that ideas and suggestions are taken into account from as many people as possible, as the planning proceeds. The process can take time, but is well worth the effort. I also have a strong interest in ensuring that every person who is attending the event has a strong sense of ownership of it.
I’m reminded, with regard to the latter concept, of a slogan that appears on p. 16 of the 1961-62 MCHS yearbook. The slogan, at Charles Tsiang’s profile, reads: It’s your Student Council.” It’s a fitting slogan for his profile, as he served as President of the Student Council in 1961-62. Well, the same is true for the current reunion: “It’s your Reunion.”
A consistent theme, in ensuring that we all have that strong sense of ownership of the event, has been that the reunion rests on a simple premise. Our purpose, in getting together, is to mix and mingle. That is the whole point of the event. Nothing extraordinary. Nothing earth-shattering. We’re here to mix and mingle – and we’re also aware that each of us is the star of the show. We’re not at the event to rank each other, by order of accomplishments. For those of us attending, such rankings are not of interest.
Now, it’s great to speak about these things, but how do we turn the concept into a reality? In the case of the Oct. 17, 2015 event at Old Mill Toronto, it is Lynn Hennebury Legge’s Business Card Game that will set the stage for the rest of the evening. We’ll be mixing and mingling, in a systematic, well-planned way, as soon as the event gets under way.
Lynn speaks of the game as akin to speed networking. It’s a way for people to get to know each other quickly, in a fun way. Lynn has many years of experience in organizing the game; she knows every detail and she brings, to the task at hand, the requisite enthusiasm and experience to get the game underway at once.
You can send me a text at any time; or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions about anything, as we get closer to the event, and even during the weekend of the event, please feel free to text or phone me at 416-722-6630. You can text me from anywhere in North America, at any time.
If you’re in Toronto early, on the Friday (Oct. 16) in the morning or at lunchtime, feel free to call me; we can get together for coffee or lunch if our mutual schedules permit. That evening, a get-together is planned either at the Stay Inn or Timothy’s Pub, as previous posts and Newsletters have noted.
Our next planning meeting is in Kitchener at 11:30 am on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, at the Boston Pizza where we always meet when we meet in Kitchener. If you’re an MCHS alumna or alumnus, you are welcome to join us. We value ideas and input, even at this late stage of planning, from every source. As always.