A little middle school in Naugatuck, Conn., once featured on Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!” once again has people saying “believe it or not.” Hillside Middle School, known mostly for its unique architecture and character, has done something else quite unique.
On Aug. 17, 2013, former Hillside teachers Fred and Jeanne Scheithe hosted what was known as the Hillside Middle School “no class” reunion. Classes from the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s were invited to put down their iPhones and iPads and join in some good old-fashioned, face-to-face fun. Not only did the reunion showcase students throughout the decades, but many current and former teachers as well, highlighting just how special Hillside Middle School was to everyone.
Now I know what you might be saying, “A middle school reunion? Do people really want to get together with people from middle school?” Well, 220 people did, and the event was so popular that once the limit was reached people had to be turned away.
The reunion, which was held at the Elks Lodge in Naugatuck, featured DJing by Rob Rager and food by Jesse Camille’s. Upon entering the building and signing in to get their name tags, alumni were greeted by posters and pictures of days past. Memories of simpler days, where there toughest decisions in life were which sandwich to get at lunch or which pair of Converse sneakers to wear that day, were on display for all to see. Groups of curious-eyed alumni gathered around, pointing and laughing at pictures of big hair, forgotten school projects, time-honored dress styles and simple awards, such as “most talkative” and “what ifs.”
After working up an appetite from laughing and reminiscing, the alumni gathered for food and drink, all the while stile mingling amongst one another. The festivities continued after dinner, when Jennifer Mazzeo led the entire no class reunion in song and dance. DJ Rob played songs that spanned all the decades, bringing not only the generation they were relevant to onto the dance floor, but other classes as well.
Fred Scheithe gave a well-deserved, memorable speech to the classes, and Gordon Rossi broke out the guitar for some classic Elvis impersonating. Tina Dambowsky and Fred Scheithe took plenty of pictures, capturing happy moments for all to enjoy now and to display for the next reunion.
Lines between several generations quickly dissolved as everyone continued to dance the night away. See, Hillside may be on the books or shown on TV because of its architecture, but it was what was unseen behind the walls of the school that matters the most. This was well documented by the smiles on faces, the endless hugs between old friends, classmates and teachers and the bringing together of new ones.
The kindness and care given by teachers extends well after graduation day, and the impact of their simple gestures radiated throughout the night.
On this night there weren’t representatives from different classes, there weren’t teachers and students. On this night there was a little family known as Hillside Middle School, remembering the old times, celebrating the present time and creating new memories to reminisce about in the future.
Jennifer L. Mezzio