Reunited and it feels so good

By Julie Barzilay, Marni Barta and Derek Schlom

Curtis School Reunion

I pull up 30 minutes late into the “carpool circle” where I was picked up for four years as a student at Curtis School, racing over after my final AP exam. As I run into Ahmanson Auditorium, I peer around at the throngs of children running wild across the quad— were we really that small six years ago? Almost instantly parents at the alum table pull me over, requesting my college and contact information so Curtis can stay in touch. Although I’ve been a Curtis “alum” for six years, it feels like it only becomes official once you graduate from high school. As I turn around, I’m greeted by my fourth grade teacher and her first child. We reminisce about Mad Minutes and field trips.

Within the next 10 minutes I’ve hugged and greeted 25 old classmates. Only a few have changed so much that I can barely detect a resemblance to their sixth grade selves. Over a third of the attendees’s faces are quite familiar because about 20 of the 60 Curtis students in the class of 2003 matriculated to Harvard-Westlake with me. I snap a picture of Harry Gallway ’09 and Jamie Shaum ’09. Wait….I say. I could have taken that yesterday….at school. I move on to the crowd of Marlborough girls mingling with Brentwood Eagles. Just as we’re beginning to chat, the sixth grade video starts to roll. I snap a picture of our grade, six years later, laughing as our 12-year-old selves declare our favorite music, movie and memories onscreen. It’s poignant…and very, very funny. The teachers in the video wished us luck “next year,” – at secondary school. As we file outside for a class picture, those wishes resonate as I think about how, come fall, our grade will no longer be rooted in LA but spread out across the U.S. By the end of the reunion, as we munch on Curtis-crest cupcakes, it seems like many have resumed conversation with the same friends they used to hang out with in elementary school. Some goodbyes are sweet, some awkward. It’s unclear when we’ll see each other again…but at least we can always pop in the sixth grade video and feel humiliated whenever we get nostalgic for our Curtis years.

The Center Reunion

I remember hugging my friends in tears after the graduation play at the Center for Early Education six years ago. Ironically, with the exception of one or two of my best friends, each of us would remain together for the next six years at Harvard-Westlake. In a class of 54 students, 21 of us relocated from North Alfred St. to North Faring Rd.

On May 17 I hosted the Center reunion at my house, and my backyard was flooded with faces from my past.

When the doorbell rang indicating the arrival of the first guest, I was excited to see which of my former classmates it would be. After anxiously rushing to the door, I discovered that it was Justin Shafa ’09, a current classmate at Harvard – Westlake.

The doorbell rang again.

“Okay,” I thought, “this time it’s going to be someone I haven’t seen since my Bat Mitzvah.” It was Alex Sones ’09. He was in my prom limo the night before. Sones was followed by Billy Wolf ’09 and Cody Schott ’09. Not only were they both also in my limo the night before, but Schott will be joining me at college next year as well.

I had prepared myself to reunite with people from my past, but for the first half-hour I was surrounded by people that were very much a part of my day-to-day life.

Around 3:30 p.m., the rest of the Centerpedes began to show, many of whom I had lost contact with after about a year out of the Center. Though everyone had matured over the past six years, for the most part, we all recognized each other’s faces instantly. It was the parents that had the most difficulty identifying us. Struggling to figure out whether Olivia Washington was an adult or a Center alum, parents sought the help of Olivia Kestin ’09. Parents easily recognized Kestin and were relieved to find someone whose appearance they believed had not really changed.

Though I spent most of the reunion surrounded by my current classmates, it was still a nostalgic and sentimental afternoon. We spent the day reflecting over funny stories from the Center, discussing our current lives at various high schools, and finding out where everybody would be going next year. We were all excited to hear that Myles Bullock, a current senior at Westchester High School, will be playing Division I football next year at Fresno State. Natalie Cohen and Trini Rios ’09 will be going to school together again at USC after a six-year gap and will be able to see Bullock’s team face-off with their alma matter at the first game of his season.

In four years, Alex Rivkin ’09 and I as well as Jenna Berger ’09 and Avery Rosin ’09 will have attended the same schools as each other for 20 years, setting the record for our class of time together.

As the reunion came to an end, we said goodbye to the friends that were influential in shaping us into the people we are today, promising to reunite as a group in four years.

Mirman School Reunion

My Mirman School reunion on May 19 wasn’t really a reunion. Sure, I caught up with some long-lost friends, but I would consider the event more of a congregation of Harvard-Westlake students on Mirman’s picturesque Mulholland Drive campus than a “reunion” of any kind: 20 current H-W seniors attended Mirman, and practically all of them were in attendance at the event, held in McDaniel Library.

From the start, I felt uncomfortable—not because of anything on the part of those who had organized the event, but it was all just so…awkward. Everything felt off. For one, the invitation indicated a start time of 4:30 p.m. and an end time of 6:30. Should my mother plan on me being home for dinner? Would food be served? My nerves got worse once I arrived. A banner hanging above the main entrance gate read something to the effect of “Welcome Home.” I found this sentiment a bit presumptuous—I consider my house home, not the elementary school I had barely visited in the prior six years.

Once I got a glimpse of my former classmates, I was practically apoplectic: they were wearing t-shirts and flip-flops, while I was overdressed, and overheated, in a cashmere sweater and khaki pants. Then the half-hugs and small talk started, and the flop sweat came. One of my former teachers asked me where I was going to college, and indicated that she had never heard of the school. Burn.

After the initial contacts, I huddled in a corner for much of the event with Eric Arzoian ’09, Rebecca Contreras ’09, Sara Fleischman ’09, all of whom attend Harvard-Westlake.

We made jokes about how good it was to see each other again, and asked how each other were…since earlier in the day. And there was nothing, really, to do.

No activities or mixers had been planned, no agenda had been set. We basically stood around and talked in clumps…and I realized that this is what I loved about Mirman.

Social interaction isn’t really my forte, and I developed those non-skills in elementary school, on that very campus.

It’s the awkward moments that I remember and cherish the most. At Mirman we were encouraged to be ourselves- we weren’t forced to blend together. At the reunion, I stood around and talked to people I see every day, and that was okay. I was neurotic and I freaked out about every detail of this reunion, but that’s who I am and, at Mirman, that’s enough.