An Alumni Perspective
by Laurie Barnoski
I met my classmate Judy at LaGuardia on Thursday, Oct. 2, so we could begin our 50th Manhasset High School reunion weekend. Judy and I had met on the first day of kindergarten at Munsey Park Elementary. Our beloved teacher, Mrs. Doukas, told us that we would share the same cubby where we would hang our coats on hooks each day, one coat on a side.
Besides Judy, I would also be joining a group of five women who had been my close friends since elementary school. Three of us plus a male classmate had organized the reunion.
Fifty years later, we were excited to catch up at Publicans on Friday night with 110 of our classmates and guests, tour the high school on Saturday and then celebrate together at Port Washington Yacht Club for dinner and dancing.
It was great to start the festivities on Friday night. Though most of us had not seen each other in five decades, people were so familiar, like family members. Someone smiled at me, and memories broke loose; I couldn’t help but smile right back. Looking at classmates, I was disoriented for a few seconds as my mind registered changes in their faces, but then I realized I too had changed. It didn’t matter.
At the 50th, there was no judging about what classmates wore or looked like. No one cared who was “successful” or popular. It was all about accepting the love and genuine interest coming our way and giving it back. We were bound by our childhood experiences growing up in Manhasset, walking the halls of MHS, knowing each other’s parents and siblings, and hoping that the people we were talking to were happy.
As Publicans filled up, we caught up on where we lived, how we had made a living and our children, spouses and interests. And being New Yorkers, we recalled shared experiences and made each other laugh. And hugged a lot.
Saturday, we toured MHS. What a school! So many great spaces—science labs, band, drama and art rooms, a beautifully restored auditorium, old and new trophies in cases and the same wonderful red-polished-tile floors. Walking into the gym was emotional for many of us. The smell of varnish, the banners and bleachers, memories of PE classes, sports night, basketball games—fun fun times. Five of our classmates had children who had graduated from Manhasset High. We knew that the children of Debbie Belt Key, Debbie Albanese Klein, Tom Allen, Tom Meehan and Bruce Scotto would, like us, gather at reunions remembering good times.
Saturday night at Port Washington Yacht Club was a blast. There was so much joy in the room as we danced the night away, snapped photos and shared a great meal. People said nice things to each other. I was surprised and touched by how honest classmates were as they talked about being shy or awkward in high school. We trusted each other 50 years later and felt fortunate that unlike 26 of our classmates who had passed away and whom we missed, we are lucky to still be here.
There is an old saying that there is nothing like an old friend. I would add, there is nothing like an old friend from Manhasset High.