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Darien's Class of '71 returns

Published 5:30 pm, Sunday, August 7, 2011

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  • Classmates Seth Lefferts, Jay Ames, Hal Lefferts and Bruce Manchon entertained at the DHS Class of 1971 reunion picnic at Weed Beach. Photo: Contributed Photo
    Classmates Seth Lefferts, Jay Ames, Hal Lefferts and Bruce Manchon entertained at the DHS Class of 1971 reunion picnic at Weed Beach. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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When the Darien High School Class of 1971 selected Crosby Stills & Nash's "Teach Your Children" as its graduation song, no one could imagine returning 40 years later as parents, let alone grandparents.

But on the weekend of July 22 through 24, 120 class members, including several who had graduated from other schools but had attended the Darien system for many years, returned to celebrate their 40th high school reunion. For a listing, see http://dhs1971.darien.org/.

For 10 months, the reunion committee prepared for three days of activities. Committee members, who either lived in Darien or nearby, included Carley Tankoos, Sandy Cunningham Volin, Peter Rogers, Doug Lawrence, Sue Allen Reichart, Mary Ellen Quirk, Jeff Castle and Liz Hough.

The first step was to track down the 328 members of the class, an easier task with email than for the last decade's reunion. Committee member and professional genealogist Nancy Coleman of Port Washington, N.Y., was up for the task, and eventually reached all but two of the 1971 graduates.

New Jersey resident and graphic designer Gail Mardfin designed and maintained the website where classmates could learn of the developments of the reunion-in-planning and see pictures from past reunions. Bill Wright and Sally Wurtzell Wright helped the committee from their home in Houston. Phil Williams in San Francisco and Peter Sweeney in Chicago coordinated a weekend's worth of music.

From an informal gathering at the Piedmont to a picnic at Weed Beach, the weekend was chock full of times to reminisce as well as share in-the-moment experiences. The highlight was Saturday night at Wee Burn Country Club, where the class that came of age with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones laughed and danced well beyond midnight.

The class, which now includes college professors, artists, investment advisers, executive recruiters and taxi drivers, was noted for its creativity and nonconformity while in high school. Though their collective memories are foggy, everyone remembered "the Intersection," the place where the classroom wings of the former high school building crossed, causing a jam-up several times a day as school bells rang. It was members of the class of 1971 who once placed a VW Beetle in the Intersection, exacerbating the pedestrian traffic jam.

So on Saturday morning, the large group that toured the new high school was pleased to learn that Pete, their tour guide and high school custodian of 10 years, had heard of the class' pranks from 40 years prior.