Thirty Years Later

By Wilson Rothman '93

It was early January 2023. I was walking up the street from Penn Station to my office building and I thought, “Why does 2023 ring a bell?” Then it hit me: I graduated from Canterbury 30 years ago. Three decades. The school itself was only 16 years old when the Class of ’93 received diplomas. And while I had kept in close contact with some classmates, others I had not seen since graduation. We’d all just gone off and lived our lives. And our teachers—I didn’t even know who might be alive or dead. There was only one answer: We needed a reunion.

My class had never had a reunion. I soon found out that few if any Canterbury graduating classes ever had. Given the small class size and closeknit relationships—plus the annual alumni gatherings—maybe people didn’t feel reunions were necessary. When I started reaching out, though, I found that about half the class was game for a summer hangout.

Among the enthusiastic, three stood out: Shay (Jones) Prosser, Dave Simmons and Kendra (Hensch) O’Connor. Each had talents that would be crucial if we were going to pull this off. So we formed a committee—an ongoing mini reunion of its own—and got to work. We plowed through a spreadsheet, trying to reach as many of the 34 grad as possible. When digital approaches were exhausted, we reverted to an old-school mailer. (I may or may not have used my company’s in-house detective to find someone’s phone number.)

On August 12, we enjoyed the fruits of that labor. Thirteen Class of ’93 graduates came together from nine different states. We were joined by another nine former classmates, seven retired teachers, and five current staff members including head of school David Jackson.

Ironically, the cocktail party and dinner took place in rooms that didn’t exist when we wandered the halls back in the 1990s. But socializing in the new library and Gates lecture hall was a chance to see how the school had expanded and evolved. It was still Canterbury, but bigger and more high-tech.

Seeing the teachers might have been the most unexpectedly delightful part. Don Rod Griffin, our Spanish professor, was as animated as ever. Math teacher Walt Rieger, history teacher Eric Wehrli, bio teacher Ted King and Dennis Eller, our drama coach and college counselor all made appearances, along with two middle school teachers, Judy King and Judy Hayhurst. It’s a little bizarre to sip wine and swap parenting stories with people who once handed out grades, but I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

With our fellow classmates, it was different. Thirty years is a funny span of time. We have enjoyed successes and endured trying times. We’ve already done much of the climbing—socially and professionally—that we’ll ever do. Nobody is coasting, but nobody is boasting either. Conversations were surprisingly free of work talk, even family talk. Soon, the evening became a time machine. The years melted away, and we were high schoolers once again, goofing around and laughing. It was hard to end. Was there a 2 a.m. bocce tournament in someone’s backyard? If there was, it didn’t end up on social media. As I said, the time machine transported us, refreshingly, back to an age when there were no smartphones or Instagram.

Sweet as it was, the bitter element was knowing who wasn’t there. That’s one reason everyone who came wants to do it again. In five years?