When alumni of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore began planning their latest reunion, they realized that former students from other high schools in their district -- and even those who have since moved to a warmer climate -- wanted to participate.
So JFK Alumni Inc., the high school's alumni association, organized its first multi-high school, multi-graduating class, multi-state reunion last Sunday.
Ron Steiger, public relations director for the alumni association and a 1972 JFK graduate, said that alumni from Wellington C. Mepham High School and Sanford H. Calhoun High School contacted him to join in. But many of their former classmates had relocated to Florida.
"We started getting phone calls from people that were down South," Steiger explained. "They thought they might see people they knew from elementary school or middle school even if we went to different high schools."
The alumni association decided to hold simultaneous reunions on Long Island and in Florida. Gary Haft, 60, formerly of Merrick and a classmate of Steiger's, was appointed to organize the Florida reunion.
Despite severe thunderstorms threatening the turnout at the Pavilion Grill in Boca Raton, Florida, on Sunday, Haft met nearly 60 Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District alumni, who celebrated as about 300 alumni met up at Maliblue Oyster Bar in Lido Beach.
Long Island attendees called those in Florida to trade stories and reconnected with people they hadn't seen in decades.
"Everybody was talking with each other and looking for people in their graduating class," Haft said. "I saw somebody I hadn't seen in 43 years."
The new reunion concept was so successful that alumni living elsewhere have already contacted Steiger to partake next year.
"People in other places are asking for a reunion, too," Steiger said. "So next year we plan to do it in New York, Florida and California."