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School Reunions Might Be More Fun on Zoom


On the other hand, the ability to turn off one’s camera or even strike one’s name from Zoom attendance can enable the special pleasure of eavesdropping on a reunion invisibly and free of small talk (or heavy talk).

Reunions can fuel a competitive streak, a fact not lost on Alexandra Solomon, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Northwestern University, “The fantasy is that your classmates will tell you, ‘Look at you, look how far you’ve come!’” she said. But trying to score points with old friends who are doing the same thing can be futile, she added. “Who are you going to impress if everybody is in the parade and nobody is watching the parade?” she said.

Ideally reunions give people a chance to get over themselves, and in an unsettled time, to revive a flagging sense of social justice. Dr. Solomon, who was planning this week to attend a reunion of her own, confided, “For me that visit is meant to reunite, repair, and bear witness to the l layers of racism that we, at 14 or 15, didn’t know how to make sense of.”

Victor Quint, 71, an anesthesiologist in Toronto, took part earlier this month in his first grade reunion with chums from Johannesburg, South Africa, where he grew up. That meeting, and current racial tensions, sparked a sense of déjà vu, he said. He had spent his youth fighting apartheid, joining protests in the street, being beaten, detained, and arrested by police. “That was my time,” he said, “and I’m reminded of it now. I didn’t enjoy living in that system.”

Ivan Dreyer, a lawyer in New York and Mr. Quint’s former classmate, helped organize that online gathering and another taking place this month. “I didn’t have much of a social conscience at that young age,” Mr. Dreyer, 70, acknowledged. “At home, I would say to a servant, ‘Make me such and such for lunch.’

“Only at around at around age 10 did I think, ‘Oh, hell, these people must wish they lived in our house.’ Now I’m left wondering what it would have been like if the situation had been reversed.”


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